Earlier today, Australia’s Old Parliament House in Canberra caught ablaze. Footage of the fire shows flames and smoke raging from the front doors of the country’s former parliament building.
While Australia’s present parliament is another building a short distance away, the Old Parliament House has remained as a museum and national heritage site.
Below is footage of the fire at the Old Parliament House:
HAPPENING NOW: Old Parliament House in Canberra on fire.
The bonuses of “global warming”?
— Avi Yemini (@OzraeliAvi) December 30, 2021
🇦🇺 More from old parliament house in Canberra. pic.twitter.com/9FnVB9Q9bC
— Anonymous UK Citizen (@AnonUKCitizen) December 30, 2021
The site has been a hotbed of protest activity in recent weeks for indigenous rights and Aboriginal sovereignty in the capital Canberra. The indigenous group has held demonstrations leading up to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the former parliament’s front lawns.
The tent embassy is a protest occupation site that launched a national discussion about indigenous land rights and has been a permanent fixture on the lawns outside Old Parliament House since 1992
Earlier this week, the indigenous group and their supporters served a ‘Notice of Acquiescence by Default’ on the Old Parliament House. The notice was addressed to the Australian Federal Police, Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, Department of Justice and Community Safety, and The Australian Commonwealth de facto Corporate Administration.
FYI protesters in Canberra at Old Parliament house are a 'sovereign citizen' group with overlapping members in the 'freedom' movement. They've been turning up for the past few weeks. They posted this "trespass" notice on the building doors this week pic.twitter.com/ZDBNDNEbpu
— Rachael Dexter (@rachael_dexter) December 30, 2021
Watch this video of the group serving the documents on 12/29/2021.
Earlier today, the indigenous rights group conducted a sacred smoking ceremony fire around the Old Parliament House. Moments later, the building caught ablaze and a standoff occurred between the group and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Police.
Mainstream media has already blamed the fire on the indigenous group and labeled them terrorists for the supposed vandalism.
Australia’s former parliament building in the capital Canberra was briefly set alight on Thursday by protesters during a demonstration for Aboriginal sovereignty, police said.
No-one was injured in the fire, which engulfed the Old Parliament House’s front doors before it was put out.
It follows a fortnight of protest activity at the site, police said.
Protest violence on this scale is rare in Australia, but flare-ups have become more common during the pandemic.
Some of the protesters had identified themselves as part of anti-government and “sovereign citizen” groups, observers said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the violence, saying: “This is not how Australia works.”
“I am disgusted and appalled by behaviour that would see Australians come and set fire to such a symbol of democracy in this country,” he said.
Workers inside the heritage building were quickly evacuated once the fire broke out on Thursday.
The current residents of the building, the Museum of Australian Democracy, had on 20 December shut its doors after indigenous protesters held a “peaceful sit-in”.
The museum said it recognised protesters’ rights to a peaceful protest. It has not yet addressed Thursday’s protest.
One of the nation's most cherished buildings, Old Parliament House, has been set on fire during ugly protests today in Canberra.
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) December 30, 2021
Indigenous rights campaigners had planned to hold a 'small smoking ceremony' outside the Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia – but instead the front of the building was set on fire.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 30, 2021
More footage of people watching as a fire consumes the front entrance to Old Parliament House in Canberra. Police and other agencies will have lots of footage to work with as they investigate. pic.twitter.com/xwbhlpB5zM
— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) December 30, 2021
Current scene at the old parliament house in Canberra, Australia 👀—RP Tommy Robinson pic.twitter.com/SOZQTMbAmR
— m𝑒ʳʳ𝕪 𝕔hi𝓁𝓁mᵃ𝐬 (@chiIIum) December 30, 2021
The burning of Old Parliament House is both a tragedy and disgrace. A symbol of democracy, our social, economic, environmental achievements, the peoples' house. Vandals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. @australian @MoAD_Canberra #auspol https://t.co/NMn3CiidJG
— Troy Bramston (@TroyBramston) December 30, 2021
While the mainstream media and Australian government quickly condemned the indigenous group for the fire, we’re getting reports that police started the blaze.
Contacts on the scene stated that police used pepper spray on the ceremonial fire on the building’s front steps. The highly-flammable spray ignited the sacred smoking ceremony fire and caused the Old Parliament House to catch ablaze.
My Vicpol contact has confirmed that the fire at Parliament House, Canberra was started by the Police spraying the Indigenous Tribe who had a little fire pit going, with Capsicum Spray. The spray is extremely flammable & has set the place on fire. You can't make this shit up.
— Cha Cha Charles (@ChaChaC87311797) December 30, 2021
The standoff between the indigenous group and police escalated as fire crews worked to put out the fire.
Old Parliament House Canberra 🇦🇺 The Standoff continues.. A group of people have questioned the Govts Jurisdiction and It's now escalated to scuffles and a full Blown fire. As this progresses, I must admit, it's starting to look like an organised Govt FF Event 👇👊 pic.twitter.com/IjTYwi87uc
— 𝙍𝙄𝙎𝙀𝙈𝙀𝙇𝘽𝙊𝙐𝙍𝙉𝙀 (@risemelbourne) December 30, 2021
Watch footage of the standoff from this Instagram video.
One of my contacts has informed me there’s currently no footage available of the moment the Old Parliament House caught ablaze. The stated reason is because nobody should be recording the sacred ceremony.
Here’s a full witness statement from another member of the indigenous group at the scene.
Tell us your thoughts in the comments!