Townsville Bulletin - - PLAY -

The seem­ingly dull daily world of Par­lia­ment gives Annabel Crabb fod­der for an en­gag­ing and en­ter­tain­ing series, writes HE word par­lia­ment is likely to elicit lit­tle more than a yawn from the ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians.

But Annabel Crabb has man­aged to turn our cap­i­tal, both the lit­eral build­ing and the po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses that take place within it, into an in­ter­est­ing and even en­ter­tain­ing sub­ject.

Her new four- part doc­u­men­tary series, The House, ex­plores the lit­tle- known cor­ners of this self­con­tained city, which our politi­cians call home for about 20 weeks a year. “The things you learn at school about Par­lia­ment House,

Seanna Cronin

you’re con­di­tioned to think it’s bor­ing,” she tells Play.

“We want to show peo­ple the in­ter­est­ing bits, the funny bits, the ec­cen­tric bits and the sur­pris­ing bits about their po­lit­i­cal process.

“We all pay for this build­ing, we all own a bit of it and it rep­re­sents us in some way.”

From stun­ning drone footage of the $ 1 bil­lion build­ing to in­ter­views with the Se­nate’s Black Rod ( yes, that is a real job), the series is re­spect­ful yet light­hearted.

“It’s com­mon for peo­ple to say I’m not in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics, so we as­sume a low level of knowl­edge,” Annabel, a long­stand­ing mem­ber of the Fed­eral Par­lia­men­tary Press Gallery, says.

“This is a show de­signed for peo­ple who sort of know where Can­berra is and that there is a pointy build­ing built on it.

“We of­fer a glimpse of things that might make them feel dif­fer­ently about a build­ing they’re used to rolling their eyes at.”

Annabel and her pro­duc­tion team spent a year ne­go­ti­at­ing their all- ac­cess pass to a build­ing largely off- lim­its to the pub­lic and the me­dia. Film­ing was timed to co­in­cide with the open­ing of the 45th Par­lia­ment in Au­gust last year.

“It was very con­tentious,” she says. “Par­lia­ment House doesn’t bend its rules lightly, so there were ques­tions around the prece­dent it would set for other me­dia.

“We take you down into the un­der­ground cat­a­combs of the par­lia­men­tary base­ment.

“There are 1100 rooms down there, it’s like an un­der­ground city with these elec­tric cars buzzing around.”

A visit to the load­ing dock un­earthed one of the most in­ter­est­ing sto­ries in the series.

“Sandy McIn­er­ney is this amaz­ing woman who con­trols the lifeblood to Par­lia­ment House,” Annabel says.

“A cou­ple of years back she heard Ju­lia Gil­lard speak about the apol­ogy to those af­fected by forced adop­tions and Sandy, who is adopted, went off to look for her birth mother.

“The story that un­folds is just amaz­ing. She finds her mother and also dis­cov­ers her mother is quite a fa­mous Aus­tralian ac­tress.”

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