Friday, 13 March 2015

Opening of Parliament 2015

My choir, the Darwin Chorale, was asked to sing at the opening of Parliament for this year. This is a formal occasion and is attended by many dignitaries. It also coincides with the Chinese New Year. The Choir was in the gallery to lead in the singing of the national anthem.
The main entrance to  Parliament House.
We have only one House for our Parliament, the Legislative Assembly. This is the view of the empty chamber. The Speaker sits at an elevated desk seen in the lower right corner. The Speaker is an elected member of Parliament and it is a great honour to be selected for this role. Her job is control debate and ensure all proceedings are conducted lawfully and with respect.
The members' desks are on two different levels and a third level behind is for guests.There is a magnificent crocodile skin on the central desk just near the despatch boxes where documents are held. The croc hide is a local product from an industry that is vital to our economy and our identity. All the timber is from the Northern Territory. You can just make out the mace on the table near the books of laws and the chairs of the Presiding Officers.

You can see the guests in their finery in the next photo. Several classes of school children had come to watch as part of their studies. The Air Force Cadets formed a guard of honour. The Lord Mayor or Darwin and the Lord Mayor of Palmerston wore their official robes. The most senior officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force were present and wore their formal uniforms and medals. If you are important, you attended this.

During the ceremony there was a blessing from the Anglican Archbishop as a representative of the Christian community and a blessing by the dragons of the Chung Wah Society representing the Asian community, specifically the Chinese. At times there have been more Chinese residents in our city than people of any other heritage. Christianity has provided a philosophical basis for our laws and legal system. There were no representatives of other religions as official guests that day.

The Chung Wah Society performed brilliantly. We were all allowed to take photos.There were two dragons and the dancers were very energetic and clever. They went to each sitting member and danced before him or her. That person then demonstrated goodwill and a desire for prosperity by feeding the dragon the traditional red envelope. It should have contained a gift of money. After each member of Parliament had been honoured by a dragon there was a dance before the bunch of leaves. The dancer had to jump up and grab the leaves and pretend to devour them.

After the dragons left the chamber all members and guests were invited to have morning tea in the Great Hall. A really splendid morning tea was provided with a separate menu for the students too. Hundreds of us all milling about.

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting. Here in Sweden the Parliament is ceremonially declared open by the king.


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