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‘Switch on’ at Old Parliament House

Sophia Bouzas

This time 70 years ago, a new era of politics emerged when Australians “switched on” to parliament radio for the very first time.

This weekend the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House will take us back to where it all began with behind-the-scenes tours to mark the 70th anniversary of live radio broadcasting from Australian Federal Parliament.

Head of Learning and Visitor Experience Glenda Smith says the public are invited to join in on the monumental celebrations.

“For the first time Australians were given the opportunity to hear what their representatives were saying in Parliament and be more involved in what was taking place within their country,” says Glenda.

“Parliament coming into your lounge room through the radio was a major event for Australians. Over 60 per cent of Australians listened to the first broadcast because that’s how important it was seen to be.”


The museum staff on the tours, who will be completely decked out in authentic 1940’s attire, will guide attendees through the museum as a video presentation details the beginnings of people powered radio. Attendees are also encouraged to dress up for the occasion, if they desire.

The tours will be a fun, interactive and engaging experience, Glenda says.

“They give attendees a unique and authentic opportunity to step back in time and really understand what life for Australian’s was like in the 1940’s,” Glenda explains.

“Now we have 24/7 coverage but for many Australians in those early days, radio broadcast was the only way they could get an understanding of what was happening in parliament.”

During the tours, staff will ask volunteers to read out some of the very words spoken by politicians and journalists during the first broadcast in 1946.

“The historical stories we can tell and show using the original spaces make it a really rich understanding of how our democracy has developed over time,” Glenda says.

For those willing to stay back after the tours, there will be an exclusive opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and inside the original broadcast booth.

To secure your spot on the tours you can book by calling on 6270 8215 or by emailing [email protected].

the essentials

What: 70 Years of Parliamentary Broadcasting Guided Tours
When: Saturday July 9 & Sunday July 10 at 11am or 2pm
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
Cost: Adults $5, Concession $3, payable on the day (includes Switched On tour and Museum entry)
Find out more:


Sophia Bouzas

Sophia is a local Canberra girl half way through her Public Relations/Law degree. But when she’s not studying, paralegal-ing or interning for the lovely team at HerCanberra, you will probably find her enjoying Canberra’s selection of cafes, watching cheesy romantic comedies with a tea in hand or planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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