Tom Richardson | Notes on Adelaide
In today’s Notes on Adelaide: questions about whether the Attorney-General breached the ICAC Act, the escapades of a self-referential minister – and did the Muggles try to muzzle parliament’s Harry Potter night?
It took a bit of diplomatic wizardry, but the notoriously staid Parliament House was (briefly) transformed into Hogwarts School for dozens of children earlier this month, hosting its inaugural ‘Harry Potter Night’.
The bipartisan event, which saw MPs invite their families as well as local constituents for a costume-themed night of fun and frivolity in the corridors of power, was the brainchild of first-term Labor MLC Emily Bourke.
“I get to host lots of school tours through parliament and every kid that comes through comments that it looks like ‘Harry Potter’,” she told InDaily.
Driven by a desire to throw open the doors of the nominal ‘People’s House’, Bourke, who is chair of the ‘Friends of the Parliamentary Library’, thought “why not encourage kids to come in and have a Harry Potter night?”
“It sort of began as an event to allow MPs to see their families on a sitting night, but then I thought ‘why not just open it up to everyone, and enable the community to come in as well?’” she said.
But it didn’t all come together like magic.
InDaily has been told there was some Voldemort-like opposition from some quarters of the parliamentary administration, with one insider blaming “cultural resistance” to the notion of having hordes of aspiring wizards invade – and on a sitting night, no less!
But in true bipartisan spirit, Liberal Upper House president Andrew McLachlan helped steer the event to successful fruition – even donning his ceremonial wig for the kids’ amusement.
“I pay tribute to Emily – it was Emily’s idea and she drove it along… she had to negotiate with two houses, the president, speaker, library and clerks,” he said.
“The parliament is naturally a conservative organisation, but it was great for me to assist her in bringing the children into parliament house and having so much laughter in the halls of parliament.”
Around 40 children attended, with Premier Steven Marshall and Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas getting into the spirit with some book readings.
The old dining room candelabra was dusted off and hung, and there was even a re-enactment of the strange ritual whereby a new Speaker is inducted, with one of the young visitors “dragged to the chair”.
Actual Speaker Vincent Tarzia did not attend – “I’m not a Harry Potter fan!” he tells InDaily – but said “any measure which encourages the public to positively engage with our parliament is a good thing”.
Down the track, he added, “we may consider reviewing the parliamentary sitting times to make them more family friendly, with a number of MPs, journalists and staff with young families”.
Bourke says she hopes the event helped spark some enthusiasm and interest in parliament and its proceedings.
“It was something new that hasn’t happened before,” she said.
“When you have a new event, there’s always going to be a few issues … but in the end everyone was supportive.”