May 8

Capital moves to Canberra, Parliament House opened

Today is the 87th anniversary of the opening of what is now known as Old Parliament House in Canberra by the Duke of York, later King George VI on 9 May, 1927.

With that, the capital moved from Melbourne to Canberra.

The Sovereign is an integral part of all Australian Parliaments, so it was highly appropriate that the future King perform this function. Today is also the 23rd anniversary of the opening of New Parliament House by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen of Australia and the opening of the first Federal Parliament in 1901 by her grandfather later King George V.


The first Commonwealth Parliament was opened in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, on 9 May 1901 by the Duke of Cornwall and York, later King George V. The Parliament sat in Melbourne for 26 years using the Parliament House. The Parliament of Victoria met in the Exhibition Building during this period.

[ The Duke and Duchess of York arrive at Parliament House, Canberra, 9 May 1927, National Archives of Australia A3560, A3058 ]

The Constitution provided that the seat of Government was to be in New South Wales but not within 100 miles of Sydney. TheFederal Capital Territory was established on 1 January 1911. A competition for the design of the new capital was won by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin. 

 The provisional Parliament House was opened on 9 May 1927 by the Duke of York, later King George VI. Parliament met there for 61 years until the new Parliament House was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II , The Queen of Australia on 9 May 1988, 61 years later to the day. 

…curator's description….

The Curator’s clip description by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers from the National Film and Sound Archive states that the video shows the Duke of York officially opening Parliament House in 1927, which is now Old Parliament House.  

“A statue of King George V is then unveiled in the foyer and the senators leave for the first ever sitting in the Senate Chamber.”

 “This newsreel clip was produced to inform the Australian public of the official opening of Parliament House. Several cameras were used, enabling them to capture the events outside as well as inside the foyer. As it is a silent newsreel, intertitles have been used to explain was we are about to see as well as to link the segments together."

" The negative of this film was flown to Sydney for processing immediately after the ceremony, arriving at Mascot 90 minutes later. It would have been screened in cinemas within the week,” Ms. Taggart-Speers says. 


….Burley Griffin, Dame Nellie Melba…


  Burley Griffin was there and Dame Nellie Melba sung ''God Save The King''. From this time the government was based in Canberra and no longer Melbourne.

The records state that the ''ceremony took place at the main entrance of Parliament House in the presence of Their Excellencies the Governor-General of the Commonwealth and the Governors of the States, the Prime Minister, representatives from the Parliaments of several of the Dominions, the Foreign Consuls-General, Members of Parliament, and over 500 guests specially invited by the Government.

"Guests included representatives of the British, New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Indian Governments, State Governors, Judges of the High Court, State Premiers, widows of former Prime Ministers, members of both Houses of Federal Parliament, representatives of the church and mayors of the capital cities. Other notable guests included Dame Nellie Melba who sang God Save the Queen and Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahoney. Fifty four members of the Press were also in attendance.

" Guards of Honour representing the Navy, Army and Air Services, were provided for Their Royal Highnesses and the ceremony was witnessed by many thousands of the general public."

It was also broadcast nationally and filmed for newsreel services shown in the nation's cinemas.


You may also like

Celebrate the King’s Birthday

Celebrate the King’s Birthday

Record Online Audience 

Record Online Audience 
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter!