My internship at the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
As part of the Australian National Internships program at the ANU, I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past 13 weeks at the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. I’m sad to say that before beginning my internship the only memory I had of Old Parliament House was from a Year 6 excursion which was tinged with bitter disappointment at not being picked to wear Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation robes. Suffice it to say my time at the APMC has left me with some happier memories.
The primary aim of my internship was to produce a research paper that could be of use to the APMC given their focus on prime ministerial research. As less work has been done to date by APMC researchers on the more recent prime ministers, I was tasked with looking at an aspect of John Howard’s prime ministership. Luckily the Research Library, as well as the wonderful staff, provided a rich collection of materials to help guide me. From there it was a process of working out how to frame a broad topic into something I could tackle within the scope of my paper. With a lot of thinking and some assistance from my APMC supervisor, my final report explored Howard’s use of the concept of national interest to guide and justify his policy actions in East Timor. This proved a fruitful avenue of analysis illuminating various aspects of Howard’s approach to politics.
In addition to working on my paper I was also involved in some of the APMC’s various projects. In particular I helped to update the Election Speeches website for the 2013 Federal Election. Finding the official campaign launch speeches of the Coalition and Labor Party proved slightly more difficult than anticipated as both parties’ launch speeches were paradoxically delivered towards the end of the campaign. The process of organising the material with the web team, drafting introduction blurbs for all the possible outcomes and getting copyright approval to publish the speeches provided me with a valuable insight into how much goes on behind-the-scenes to keep this important record of Australian Federal elections up to date.
And then, of course, there’s the building itself. While I never quite successfully managed to navigate myself through the rabbit warren corridors of Old Parliament House it was nonetheless amazing to work in a building so steeped in our national history. From the ubiquitous clocks with their red and green lights to the plethora of rooms each with their own interesting history I was always finding reminders of the building’s illustrious past. At the same time, everyone who works at Old Parliament House does such a wonderful job of keeping that past alive. During my time here, I watched a heritage reveal exposing the original colour scheme of the Members’ Dining Room and listened to a lively debate held in the House of Representatives Chamber during the Election Festival. I have to say I’m very envious of everyone who gets to work daily in such an interesting and exciting building.
I really loved my time at the APMC and my thanks go to everyone who works there for always giving so generously of their time and expertise to assist me. I hope that I might be the first of many ANIP interns who can enjoy the wonderful experience I had at the APMC.