… 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.
100 years of prosperous progress
In 1929, Western Australia hosted a series of events marking the centenary of the state – mostly between 28 September and 12 October.
The felling of a tree at what was to be the site of the Town Hall in 1829, by Captain Stirling’s landing party is Perth’s foundation event. The official opening of the new Town Hall in 1870 was held close to the 41st anniversary of that event. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Town Hall played an important role in celebrating 100 years since the foundation of the Swan River Colony in 1829.
At the Town Hall, the main celebrations were on the 12 August 1929. This was the 100th anniversary of the City of Perth – the day the first stone was laid for the barracks. The WA Governor Sir William Champion announced that George V had granted the City of Perth a Lord Mayoralty. The event was marked with a parade at the Town Hall at which a commemorative plaque was unveiled. SLWA 100656PD; 100658PD.