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Old Parliament House Set On Fire As Protestors Gather

Hannah Blackiston

Published 

Old Parliament House Set On Fire As Protestors Gather

Old Parliament House in Canberra has been set on fire amid protests at the site.

The front entrance of the building was set ablaze earlier today with reports of protestors chanting 'let it burn' as emergency services put the fire out.

It's the second time the building has been set on fire in consecutive weeks with demonstrators clashing with media and police officers at the site.

Last week crowds were gathering ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal tent embassy, which will land on Australia Day.

The ABC has been told today's protests is not associated with those gatherings.

According to the Emergency Services Agency, ACT firefighters responded to reports of the blaze at 11.45am today, extinguishing the blaze after less than 15 minutes.

The building was evacuated as a precaution and ACT Police are now investigating the source of the fire.

Adrian Richardson, a chef visiting from Melbourne spoke to 3AW after witnessing the blaze.

"There's a lot of police, there's a lot of police with flags all waving and screaming, a lot of fire trucks," he said.

"I saw the balcony above the front steps bursting into flames."

Footage on social media shows flames and smoke billowing from the front of the building and blackening at the front of the building after the flames were extinguished.

Old Parliament House was the seat of government from 1927 to 1988 when the larger, new parliament building, was built.

It's currently used as the Museum of Australian Democracy and was the site of Gough Whitlam's speech after the dismissal in 1975.

The Aboriginal tent embassy was established on the front lawn of Old Parliament House in 1972 and is a regular spot for protesting.

Responses have begun rolling in on social media, with former Nationals leader Michael McCormack calling the incident a 'disgrace'.

"Old Parliament House is on fire with protesters screaming "Let it burn! Let it burn!" How disgraceful," he said.

"An outrageous attack on our democracy, our history, our sovereignty. This modern penchant for tearing down our past serves no purpose. Repercussions ought to be swift & severe."

It isn't yet clear who set the blaze or whether it was associated with the protests at the site.

Featured Image Credit: Debu55y / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Australia

Hannah Blackiston
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