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South Australian Old and New Parliament Houses, North Tce, Adelaide, SA, Australia

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List National Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (26/01/2006)
Place ID 105710
Place File No 3/03/001/0049
Summary Statement of Significance
The South Australian Old and New Parliament Houses are significant for their association with the enfranchisement of men and women in the nineteenth century.  Full adult manhood suffrage, notably including Aboriginal men, was first granted in an Australian colony in South Australia in 1856, and this may have been the first time this voting right was granted anywhere in the world.  The first elections using a fully secret ballot were also held here the following year.  Women, again notably including Aboriginal women, were given the vote in 1894 in South Australia, and at the same time were allowed to stand for parliament.  South Australia was the first Australian colony, and one of the first jurisdictions worldwide, to give women the vote.  It was the first jurisdiction in the world to allow women to stand for parliament.  The rights granted in South Australia were subsequently introduced in the other Australian colonies/states (however, it was many years before Aboriginal enfranchisement issues were resolved).  South Australia strongly influenced the granting of voting and standing rights to women in federal elections in 1902.
 
Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
The South Australian Old and New Parliament House is strongly associated with the enfranchisement of men and women in the nineteenth century.  Full adult manhood suffrage, notably including Aboriginal men, was first granted in an Australian colony here in South Australia in 1856, and this may have been the first time this voting right was granted anywhere in the world.  The secret ballot was also first introduced in South Australia the same year.  Women, again notably including Aboriginal women, were given the vote in 1894 in South Australia, and at the same time were allowed to stand for parliament.  South Australia was the first Australian colony, and one of the first jurisdictions worldwide, to give women the vote.  It was the first jurisdiction in the world to allow women to stand for parliament.  The rights granted in South Australia were subsequently introduced in the other Australian colonies/states (however, it was many years before Aboriginal enfranchisement issues were resolved).  South Australia strongly influenced the granting of voting and standing rights to women in federal elections in 1902.

Attributes:
Both Old and New Parliament Houses are associated with the enfranchisement of men and women in the nineteenth century.  The attributes are: the surviving original fabric of the 1843 section of Old Parliament House and the 1855 building works for both adult male and female suffrage; the1857 building works, the extensions of 1861, 1864, 1875 and 1876 and the 1889 section or west wing of the New Parliament House for adult female suffrage.  The Women’s Suffrage Petition of 1894 and a tapestry commemorating women’s suffrage listed in the AHDB place record are also attributes for adult female suffrage.
 
Description
Old Parliament House is a two storey building constructed of rubble stone.  The main type of stone is limestone (quarried very close by) but sandstone was also used in some of the extensions.  There are brick quoins and dressings.  The contrast between the red brick and white limestone is a feature.  A particularly distinctive feature is the curvilinear Dutch gables.  The style was called Elizabethan at the time the building was erected in the mid 1850s and is now called Victorian Tudor; the gables are suggestive also of the Federation Anglo-Dutch style, which of course was four or five decades later.  On the ground floor there are semi-circular archways, balanced on the first floor by semi-circular window openings.  There is a band of decoration setting off the upper floor from the ground floor.  Finials decorate the gables, there is a bracketed cornice below the roofline, and a low parapet running along the edge of the roof.  The slate roof features tall chimneys and a fleche.  Contained within the building are remnant brick walls from the original 1843 Legislative Council building.
 
New Parliament House is a major work of civic architecture.  Of impressive massing and two storeys, it is designed in the Victorian Academic Classical style.  The building is built of Kapunda marble (cladding an internal brick structure), and West Island granite is used for the basement level.  The façade features a prominent colonnade of ten Corinthian columns, capped by an entablature and balustraded parapet.  More columns are to either side, and pilasters also feature.  A major stairway leads up to the colonnade and there are smaller stairways elsewhere.  Even on the plainer north façade there is an elegant balcony to the first floor.  Ground floor windows are square-headed, while those to the upper floor are round-arched; fluted columns are incorporated into the window surrounds.  Keystones on the front windows feature carvings of past Governors, and some Speakers of the House of Assembly and Presidents of the Legislative Council.  The interior features marble staircases and marble-tiled corridors.  The House of Assembly Chamber has a gilded and panelled ceiling and fittings that include walnut benches and tables.  There are also fluted pillars.  The carpet has a South Australian motif of grapes, sheaves and wattle, and Sturt Desert Pea is featured on the carpet border.  There are various galleries.  The Legislative Council Chamber is of the same dimensions as the House of Assembly, and is surrounded on three sides by galleries at ground floor level, and on four sides at first floor level.  The Council Chamber also features polished Queensland maple.  The building contains portraits and/or busts of former Premiers of South Australia, Presidents of the Legislative Council, Speakers of the House of Assembly, the first and second governors of South Australia, the explorer Edward John Eyre, and Sir J.Langdon Bonython.  There are portraits of women Members of Parliament.  Other objects located in Parliament House of significance for South Australia are the Vice Regal Throne/President’s Chair in use since 1855 and made of English Oak, the Black Rod of the Legislative Council and the Mace of the House of Assembly.  The front façade of the House of Assembly features the Lion Rampant, which is carved stonework from the Palace of Westminster, a gift from the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association to mark the completion of Parliament House in 1939.  The building also contains a library which dates from the nineteenth century. Objects located in the South Australian Parliament House which are also of significance for the national story of female suffrage are the Women’s Suffrage Petition of 1894 and the tapestry commemorating women’s suffrage. 
 
New Parliament House is located on one of Adelaide’s major intersections (North Terrace and King William Street) and is a major civic landmark with a very strong presence.  Old Parliament House, through its distinctive styling, contributes to the streetscape of North Terrace.
History
The original section of Old Parliament House, at its site west of the current Parliament House, was opened on 10 October 1843 following an increase in the membership of the Legislative Council.  The Council had previously met at Government House.  The single room building was brick with a slate roof and was constructed by Jacob Pitman.  The Council met in this building until 1855 when, to accommodate a larger Council, a new two-storey building, incorporating the old one, was opened.  It was designed by W.Bennett Hayes, the Colonial Architect, and built by English and Brown.  Further extensions (designed by Colonial Architect Edward Hamilton and built by I.W. Perryman) were opened in 1857 following the granting of responsible government and the creation of the House of Assembly.
 
The Constitution Act of 1855-56 granted full adult manhood suffrage.  Aboriginal men were included in the vote.  This made South Australia the first Australian colony with these voting rights, and it may have been the first place in the world to grant this form of suffrage.  The secret ballot was also introduced in South Australia in 1856 (and implemented in the 1857 elections) for the first time in Australia.  Politician George Strickland Kingston (who became the long time Speaker of the House of Assembly) played a major role in these reforms.  The new constitution was one of the most democratic in the world at that time, and in addition to the above features it also introduced no property qualifications for House of Assembly members, only limited property qualifications for Legislative Council members, and it prohibited plural voting.
 
Various extensions were built over the next few decades (1861, 1864, 1875, 1876).  A competition for the design of a New Parliament House was held in the early 1870s and was won by architects Edmund Wright and Lloyd Tayler.  However the decision to proceed was delayed and construction did not commence properly until the 1880s, with Colonial Architect E.J. Woods using the Wright-Tayler plans in his design.  Initial contractor was the Kapunda Marble Company, but due to dissatisfaction with their work, the government terminated the contract and a second contractor James Shaw completed the job.  The new building, finished to the west wing stage, was opened in 1889 and housed the House of Assembly; the Legislative Council remained in the old building.  The new building was the most impressive building in SA and reflected the optimism of the period.  It was deliberately constructed from South Australian materials, had an innovative ventilation system (the old building had for years been criticized for its poor ventilation), and was wired for electricity.  The opening was attended by 1500 people.  A proposed tower was never built.
 
By now, several unsuccessful attempts had been made to grant women’s suffrage.  A Women’s Suffrage League was formed in 1888, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union strongly supported the cause.  In 1894, the Government of Premier Charles Kingston (son of G.S.Kingston) was successful in achieving legislation for the enfranchisement of women.  The legislation included Aboriginal women. South Australia became the first Australian colony, and one of the first jurisdictions in the world, to give women the vote (the only other places in the world were Colorado, Wyoming and New Zealand).  The form of franchise was the most liberal in the world, with no age or marital status restrictions.  SA also granted women the right to stand for parliament and was the first place in the world to do so.  The other Australian colonies granted women’s suffrage and standing rights in later years.  South Australia helped to ensure that women had the vote in federal elections following Federation.  Aboriginal people lost the vote following Federation, only regaining it nationally in 1967.
 
South Australia’s Parliament House also played an important role in the lead up to Federation.  It was the venue for the Postal and Telegraph Conference in 1890 and the first Australasian Federal Convention in 1897.  It was at this Convention that the process of drafting the federal constitution began; two further Conventions were held in Sydney and Melbourne 1897-98.
 
The First World War delayed completion of the building’s east wing.  With the new building still unfinished in the 1930s, SA benefactor and publisher Sir Langdon Bonython donated 100,000 pounds toward the project and work commenced in 1936 – SA’s centenary year.  The design was by Architect-in-Chief A.E.Simpson, and the contractor was Slater.  The east wing – and thus the whole building - was finally completed in 1939.  The Legislative Council moved into the new building at that time.  During the Second World War, the old building became a RAAF recruiting office.  Various government agencies used the old building – which was close to being demolished a number of times - until restoration work commenced in 1978.  In 1980 the building re-opened as the Constitutional Museum, which it remained until 1995.  It is now used as a committee room and is called Old Parliament House.  As it incorporates part of the 1843 building, the site has further importance as that of the first permanent site of the South Australian Parliament.
Condition and Integrity
Both buildings are intact and in good condition.  New Parliament House has not been altered externally since completion.  Old Parliament House was restored in the late 1970s to its 1870s appearance.  (September 2004)
Location
North Terrace, corner King William Street, Adelaide.
Bibliography
Web:
http://www.parliament.sa.gov.au/about/1_4_2_old_new.shtm
 
Books:
Aplin, G., et al eds, 1987, Australians: Events and Places, Sydney.
City of Adelaide Heritage Survey, 1981-86.
Danvers Architects, 1987, Parliament House Adelaide, Conservation Study.  Prepared for the SA Department of Housing and Construction.
Danvers Architects, 1989, Old Parliament House, Adelaide, Conservation Management Plan. Prepared for the SA Department of Housing and Construction.
Donovan, Peter, 1976, The Old Legislative Council Chamber, The South Australian Museum.
Fort, Carol, 2001, Electing Responsible Government South Australia 1857, State Electoral Office.
History Trust of South Australia, 2 August 2004, Correspondence.
Jaensch, Dean, 2003, Community Access to the Parliamentary Electoral Processes in South Australia since 1850, State Electoral Office.
Logan, W., et al, 2003, Creating an Australian Democracy, Australian Heritage Commission.
Magarey, Susan, Suffrage and beyond: international feminist perspectives, edited by Caroline Daley and Melanie Nolan, Auckland, Auckland University Press, 1994, pp 70-71.
Marsden, Susan, et al, 1990, Heritage of the City of Adelaide, an Illustrated Guide, Corporation of the City of Adelaide.
Nairn, B., and Serle, G., eds, 1983, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 9, Melbourne University Press.
O’Keefe, B., and Pearson, M., 1998, Federation: A National Survey of Heritage Places, Australian Heritage Commission.
Pike, Douglas, ed, 1967, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 2, Melbourne University Press.
Reynolds, John, Edmund Barton, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1979, p 206.
Stretton, Pat, 1988, The Life and Times of Old Parliament House, published by Old Parliament House.

Report Produced  Wed Aug 27 22:41:37 2014