Touring the Parliament of South Australia with ISS.
When I was 11 years old, I took a photo on the steps of the Parliament House not knowing that one day I’d be studying the very laws made by the people inside that building. So, when the opportunity came up to visit the Parliament on a guided tour with the International Student Support, I just couldn’t pass it off.
Our tour guide took us across the hallway and into the Old Parliament House for a brief introduction of law-making in Australia. We learnt about the country's various level of governance, the laws that different types of parliaments could make and what we can do to make sure our concerns and interests are represented in Parliament.
It felt surreal to be sitting on the very chairs that members of parliaments used to sit on back in the 1800s, though I will be honest, they were not very comfortable chairs. Nonetheless, walking into this historically significant building was a good start to the tour.
Then it was time for us to visit the first chamber which houses the debates between members of the House of Assembly. Immediately, you can see the contrast in grandeur and architecture from the Old Parliament House – the seats were certainly much comfier.
We were invited by our guide to take a seat anywhere we liked (except on the Speaker’s seat, of course) as he explained the role of this chamber. The interior was splashed with green to reflect that of the UK’s House of Commons and tapestries of pivotal political movements in South Australia hung on the walls.
After marvelling at the brightly lit chandeliers and taking pictures on the seats as though I was a representative, we walked past the Premier’s office (he wasn’t in that day) and headed over to the chamber for the Legislative Council at the other end of the hallway.
This one was painted red to, again, reflect that of the UK’s House of Lords. Why red? Well, according to our guide, the colour red was a symbol of royalty and because the House of Lords was occupied by, well, lords and other noblemen, it only made sense to reinforce the status quo by painting the chamber with the royal colour.
We ended our tour walking by Mr. Bonython’s portrait, who was not only the man our graduation hall was named after but also the man who donated a lot towards the construction of the Parliament House.
It was a memorable and insightful experience overall, to be welcomed into a constitutionally important institution in South Australia. The Parliament also runs public tours on non-seating days, so I highly recommend you check it out while you’re here!