Two video clips explain the history of NSW State Parliament
CLIP 1: 1788-1901
CLIP 2: From 1901
The British colony of New South Wales was established in 1788 as a penal colony.
The first settlement, at Sydney, consisted of about 750 convicts and their
Marine guards and officers, led by Governor Arthur Phillip.
As the Military Governor of New South Wales he was the absolute ruler,
the only power superior to him being the British Parliament at
Westminster in England, nearly 20000 kilometres and 8 months away by sea.
In 1793, the first free settlers arrived, five single men and two families.
By 1810 the new colony needed a hospital.
Governor Macquarie made a business arrangement with Blacksell, Riley and Wentworth
to build a convict hospital on Macquarie Street.
Because the arrangement gave the three businessmen control of the sale of rum
for three years, the Hospital became known as the Rum Hospital when it
was completed in 1816.
Governors had almost absolute power until 1814 when Civil Courts were established.
Governor Macquarie was the last to hold almost absolute authority.
In 1824 a Legislative Council first met.
It consisted of 5 officials appointed to assist the Governor.
In 1829 the Chief Surgeon's quarters on Macquarie Street became the site
for their meetings.
This was the beginning of the Legislature.
In 1843 the Legislative Council was expanded to 36 Members.
A new chamber was built at the northern end of the old Rum Hospital building.
Two thirds of the Legislative Council were now elected and one third appointed,
beginning of a system of 'Representative Government'.
With the end of the convict system and increasing immigration from a variety
of countries, there was a growing demand for a more
responsible form of government.
William Charles Wentworth chaired the committee which drafted a constitution
for responsible self-government which was passed by the
British Parliament in 1855.
In 1856, a new Constitution for NSW created a system of responsible government
with a bi-cameral Parliament - a fully elected Lower House
(the Legislative Assembly) and an appointed Upper House (the Legislative Council).
Each now had separate chambers in the Macquarie Street building.
A new building had been erected on the south side of the Rum Hospital
to house the Legislative Council.
It was a prefabricated iron church originally intended
for the Victorian goldfields.
The older building on the north side became the Legislative Assembly chamber.
Over time, plans were put forward for new designs for the Parliament building
in the Westminster style.
Most designs were expensive and grand but, in the end, only modest additions
to the original buildings were made before the 1970's.
Henry Parkes was a dominant figure at Parliament, and Premier of NSW five times
between 1872 and 1891.
He became a national figure with his promotion of Australian federation.
With the support of his usual opponent, Edmond Barton, federation became
a bi-partisan political issue in New South Wales.
New South Wales Parliament hosted two of the Australasian Conventions
which drafted a federal constitution.
What were the main developments with regard to civics and citizenship and the NSW Parliament before 1901?
What were the main changes to the layout of the site before 1901?
How did these site changes reflect the needs of representative democracy in NSW?
With the achievement of federation in 1901, New South Wales became a state
and the role of the state parliament changed.
Some of the old functions of the New South Wales Parliament, such as defence
and postal services, became Federal responsibilities.
Many New South Wales politicians were elected to the new federal parliament.
Edmond Barton became Australia's first Prime Minister.
Fifty Years of responsible government were commemorated with the
opening of the Jubilee Room in 1906.
It housed the reading room for the upper and lower houses of the parliament.
The plaque in the Legislative Assembly is a reminder that Members of Parliament
served in both World Wars.
Two members, George Braund and Edward Larkin fought and died at
Gallipoli in May 1915.
Another plaque, placed outside the Legislative Assembly Chamber in 2008,
commemorates member William Currey.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross while serving with the AIF in France in 1918.
The Parliament was also the scene of some furious debates about
conscription during World War I.
And like the Federal government, the State Labor government split over the issue.
Women gained the right to vote in New South Wales in 1902 and the right to stand
for the Legislative Assembly in 1918.
In 1925, Millicent Preston Stanley was elected as the first woman member
of the New South Wales Parliament.
The state Parliament was also the site of the controversial Lang years during the
depression and the dismissal of Lang as Premier by the State Governor in 1932.
In 1933 an Act of Parliament made changes to the Legislative Council,
reducing its membership to 60 members who were now to be elected by
both Houses of Parliament.
In the 1960s and early 1970s moves were made to redesign the Parliament site.
Plans included a modern tower block.
The inadequacies of the site were obvious but the plan had to consider the
heritage buildings as well as the need for new offices and facilities.
In 1974 work began on the new plan which would conserve the Macquarie Street
frontage and restore the heritage parts of the site, demolish rambling structures
at the rear and replace them with a modern 12 storey complex which would only be
obvious from the Domain area behind Parliament House.
A conservation project featured work on the Rum Hospital,
the Library Jubilee Room, the Legislative Foyers and both Legislative chambers,
generally returning them to their late 19th century appearance.
In 1978 the people of New South Wales voted at a referendum to, at last,
directly elect the Legislative Council.
This referendum gave New South Wales a fully elected parliament in both houses.
In 1986 the Australia Acts increased Australia's independence from Britain.
The British Parliament or Courts no longer had a legal influence in Australia.
New South Wales is now a monarchy whose Queen is the same as that of Britain
with the Governor representing the Queen in the State.
In 2006 New South Wales celebrated 150 years of responsible government.
During that period, the Parliament site was adapted to meet the changing needs
of democracy and has reflected key events in the state and nation's history,
the development of democracy and the promotion of civic engagement
in the process of government.
What were some of the key issues and events for the NSW Parliament and democracy after 1901?