Footage Emerges, Shows Moment Before Australia’s Old Parliament House Catches Fire

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
December 31, 2021 Updated: December 31, 2021

Footage has emerged on social media detailing the moments before the front entrance of the historic Old Parliament House in Australia’s capital, Canberra, was engulfed in flames on Dec. 30.

While law enforcement in the Australian Capital Territory are currently investigating the cause of blaze that saw the front entrance suffer extensive damage, the Victorian Accountability Project has released footage and photos of protesters on its Twitter account on Dec. 31.

In one post, protesters can be seen gathered in the portico of the building applying a substance (likely paint) on two security cameras attached to the front entrance of the building. Handprints can also be seen applied around the doors.

In two other posts, photos and video reveal protesters had started a fire on the steps of the Old Parliament House’s 100-year old doors, adding kindling, before the flames caught hold and grew bigger.

In a separate Twitter post, protesters can be seen singing as the fire burns.

Protesters were later seen in the forecourt applauding as the portico went up in flames.

When police arrived they surrounded the building and had to separate protesters from engaging in altercations with media personnel.

Australian Federal Police had only approved a smoking ceremony to be held in the carpark and not right up against the front doors.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy activist group has distanced itself from the protest, saying any smoking ceremony did not have the knowledge or consent from the Embassy Council.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “disgusted and appalled” by the behaviour of the protesters for setting fire to a “symbol of democracy” of Australia.

“I think that the authorities should act swiftly and in accordance with the law and people should face the consequences for their actions. Their cause doesn’t justify that sort of violence,” he told reporters on Dec. 30.

Victorian Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, however, wrote a message of support for the actions of the protesters on Twitter, saying, “Seems like the colonial system is burning down. Happy New Year everyone.”

She removed the post after one hour.

Greens leader Adam Bandt wrote on Twitter that the incident was a “terrible sight.”

“The Greens don’t want to see the planet burning or Old Parliament. Investigations are now underway into the cause of the fire, but if this was arson, it’s unacceptable,” he wrote.

The Australian Greens have attracted criticism from the Australian Labor Party’s Mark Butler saying the party “crossed a line.”

“It was an outrageous, disgusting level of support given to a criminal act,” the shadow health minister told reporters on Dec. 31.

The Old Parliament House was the seat of the federal Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988. It now houses the Museum of Australian Democracy.