… a building … for the benefit of the public at large, and in which public meetings … may be held
The Town Hall provides a space for meeting and debating the issues of the day. Over the years the hall has been used by a wide range of groups to protest, to argue, to discuss and to learn about all sorts of political and social issues of interest and concern to the people of Perth.
Over the years, the Town Hall has also had a formal role in the political life of Western Australia – Governors were presented and welcomed at the Town Hall until 1931, and elections are often held there.
The Town Hall was used as a polling place for the Federal election held on 21 September 1940. SLWA 221413PD, 221414PD.
Sometimes, perhaps, the Town Hall has not been entirely neutral in political debates.
The Town Hall has hosted debates on all manner of political issues from votes for women to Aboriginal rights. The Town Hall has even seen the formation of a political party – Don Chipp’s Australian Democrats held their inaugural meeting there in 1977.
Before mass media, meetings held in the Perth Town Hall and other venues were very important for a healthy democracy. The tradition of ‘town hall meetings’ still continues today – even with the internet and social media.
‘Monster meetings’ were held at the Town Hall in the months leading up to the vote on Federation in 1900. The Town Hall was a polling place and crowds gathered outside on the day of the referendum.
In the 1930s, the Town Hall saw large meetings in favour of Western Australia seceding from the Eastern States.