Many commentators talk about the Canberra bubble. You know, that place where federal politicians, ministerial and backbench staff, public servants, media operatives, and lobbyists live, work or traipse weekly. It is suggested that, in this atypical one-industry town, these groups are disconnected from the rest of Australia, physically, psychologically and demographically.
And perhaps the most isolated bubble of all is Parliament House - where they congregate, parade and wheel and deal.
For unlike its state and territory counterparts, Commonwealth Parliament is located away from the city, shops, services and most importantly just ordinary people. It is the isolated centre of an isolated centre.
You need a car to get away from Parliament to access any services.
But everything about Parliament and its functioning mitigates against leaving and therefore reinforces the isolation - the sense that nothing else counts except what is happening inside the bubble.
The long hours, the relentless demands, the endless delegations, and that the Commonwealth Parliament is the centre of executive government makes it even more compelling to stay. It is unlike its state counterparts where ministers quickly retreat back to their departments or offices away from Parliament.
And leaving even for a nano-second means you might miss out on something - the gossip, the wink, the meeting, the chance encounter in the corridors with someone deemed important or just being seen.
And if you dare drive out at any time during sittings you would probably have lost your car spot - so don't!
Have no illusions - working at the Commonwealth Parliament is no picnic, however glorious you think that badly designed and managed building appears.
For instance, for staff, the food is mediocre, the choice limited, the menu unchanging, the service slow and the venues overcrowded and noisy.
Indeed, the staff cafeteria, affectionately known as the 'trough' says it all.
Forget having fresh sandwiches. They closed the sandwich bar. Instead, you can have some of those pre-packed ones like you find at petrol stations.
Parliament House may be the ultimate insiders' bubble, but as the centre of executive government it is an unpleasant and inefficient one.
And despite city prices don't expect a spoon with your frothy cappuccino from the internal coffee shop - a stick is what you get unless otherwise requested - a bit rich. Also, the kitchen closes just as Question Time is winding up - too late for the toastie.
The staff car parks are something. Believe it or not the Senate and House of Representatives car parks have different configurations - confusing for some. And who would have thought you have a four-level car park with a lift only to the second floor as on the reps side?
And the 12-month reconstruction of the House of Representatives entrance has made access so much harder. You must walk up multiple flights of stairs inside the building and then go outside and walk up two or three more flights, before you can enter via the 'temporary' entrance. Not much fun during Canberra's cold or for those lugging files and bags.
While backbench offices these days are pretty good, over in the ministerial wing they are something worse.
Designed for leaner times when ministerial staff numbers were less than the current 12 to 15, offices have become overcrowded, noisy, and alternatively freezing and stifling. Sharing colds, coughs and splutters does a lot for teamwork, but little for efficiency. And meeting rooms for all those delegations are just too few and so hard to procure.
Parliament House may be the ultimate insiders' bubble, but as the centre of executive government it is an unpleasant and inefficient one. Its original design has been overtaken by the operations of modern government and the transfer of power and decision making from the public bureaucracy to ministerial offices. It needs a revamp to serve its current functions better, to provide decent working conditions and services for hard working ministers, staff and the opposition.
- Scott Prasser worked as senior adviser for three federal cabinet ministers from November 2013 to July 2019. He served as senior private secretary for the immigration minister at Old Parliament House in 1982-83.