Behind the political scenes at Parliament House

Sir Winston Churchill is well positioned in Prime Minister Tony Abbott's parliamentary office partly thanks to Bill Bulters.

Mr Bulters said he built the plinth to hold a bust of Mr Churchill recently but the dead British prime minister is not the only knight to have relied on his solid carpentry.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove stood on a platform built by Mr Bulters when he was sworn in earlier this year.

Mr Bulters stops working at Parliament House in a month, after 30 years of service.

He helped build Parliament House in the 1980s and then got a job with the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS). 

"This place evolves," said the man who has done the full list of maintenance jobs in the building from mending dodgy doors to fixing parquetry which has popped from the floors. 


"We used to make corner cabinets when TVs were larger units but now we just hang them on the walls."

Mr Bulters along with security guards, cleaners, mechanical fitters, art handlers and pastry chefs are featured in a new exhibition at Parliament House by photographer Anne Zahalka which opened Thursday and includes 20 large printed photographs. 

Zahalka, one of Australia’s leading photomedia artists, was commissioned in 2013 by the Department of Parliamentary Services to document the many facets of the iconic national institution during its 25th anniversary celebrations. 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop, said Zahalka understood the scale of the building and the scope of the work performed in it.

“Behind every news grab, every media conference and every debate that you see on television, there are teams of dedicated staff with expertise across many areas who maintain Parliament House and support the work of Parliament and our parliamentarians,” Ms Bishop said.

 * Join Anne Zahalka, Dr Martyn Jolly and Professor Helen Ennis as they discuss the photographic legacy behind the 25th anniversary photography commission to document the behind-the-scenes work of Parliament House from 10.30am to noon Friday June 20. It will be held in the Parliament House Theatre and is free to attend. Bookings can be emailed to