A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper warship; the warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ship below a corvette are coastal patrol craft and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate; the word "corvette" is first found in Middle French, a diminutive of the Dutch word corf, meaning a small ship, from the Latin corbis, meaning "basket". The rank "corvette captain", equivalent in many navies to "lieutenant commander", derives from the name of this type of ship; the rank is the most junior of three "captain" ranks in several European and South American navies, because a corvette, as the smallest class of rated warship, was traditionally the smallest class of vessel entitled to a commander of a "captain" rank.
During the Age of Sail, corvettes were one of many types of warships smaller than a frigate and with a single deck of guns. They were closely related to sloops-of-war; the role of the corvette consisted of coastal patrol, fighting minor wars, supporting large fleets, or participating in show-the-flag missions. The English Navy began using small ships in the 1650s, but described them as sloops rather than corvettes; the first reference to a corvette was with the French Navy in the 1670s, which may be where the term originated. The French Navy's corvettes grew over the decades and by the 1780s they were ships of 20 guns or so equivalent to the British Navy's post ships; the British Navy did not adopt the term until the 1830s, long after the Napoleonic Wars, to describe a small sixth-rate vessel somewhat larger than a sloop. The last vessel lost by France during the American War of Independence was the corvette Le Dragon, scuttled by her captain to avoid being seized by a British squadron off Monte Cristi, Haïti in January 1783.
Most corvettes and sloops of the 17th century were around 40 to 60 ft in length and measured 40 to 70 tons burthen. They carried four to eight smaller guns on a single deck. Over time, vessels of increasing size and capability were called corvettes. Ships during the steam era became more maneuverable than their sail ancestors. Corvettes during this era were used alongside gunboats during colonial missions. Battleships and other large vessels were unnecessary when fighting the indigenous people of the Far East and Africa; the modern corvette appeared during World War II as an easily-built convoy escort vessel. The British naval designer William Reed drew up a small ship based on the single-shaft Smiths Dock Company whale catcher Southern Pride, whose simple design and mercantile construction standards lent itself to rapid production in large numbers in small yards unused to naval work. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill Prime Minister, had a hand in reviving the name "corvette". During the arms buildup leading to World War II, the term "corvette" was attached to the Tribal-class destroyer.
The Tribals were so much larger than and sufficiently different from other British destroyers that some consideration was given to resurrecting the classification of "corvette" and applying it to them. This idea was dropped, the term applied to small, mass-produced antisubmarine escorts such as the Flower class of World War II; the first modern corvettes were the Flower class. Their chief duty was to protect convoys throughout the Battle of the Atlantic and on the routes from the UK to Murmansk carrying supplies to the Soviet Union; the Flower-class corvette was designed for offshore patrol work, was not ideal as an antisubmarine escort. They were seaworthy and maneuverable, but living conditions for ocean voyages were appalling; because of this, the corvette was superseded in the Royal Navy as the escort ship of choice by the frigate, larger, better armed, had two shafts. However, many small yards could not produce vessels of frigate size, so an improved corvette design, the Castle class, was introduced in the war, with some remaining in service until the mid-1950s.
The Royal Australian Navy built 60 Bathurst-class corvettes, including 20 for the Royal Navy crewed by Australians, four for the Indian Navy. These were described as Australian minesweepers, or as minesweeping sloops by the Royal Navy, were named after Australian towns; the Bird-class minesweepers or trawlers were referred to as corvettes in the Royal New Zealand Navy, two and Moa, rammed and sank a much larger Japanese submarine, I-1, in 1943 in the Solomon Islands. In Italy, the Regia Marina, in dire need of escort vessels for its convoys, designed the Gabbiano-class corvette, of which 29 were built between 1942 and 1943. Modern navies began a trend in the late 20th and early 21st centuries towards smaller, more manoeuvrable surface capability. Corvettes have a
RMS Ophir was a twin-screw ocean liner of the Orient Steam Navigation Company of London, which worked company's London — Aden — Colombo — Australia route from 1891. In 1901 she served as the Royal yacht HMS Ophir. In 1915 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and was an armed merchant cruiser until 1918, when she was returned to her owners, she was not restored to passenger service, but was scrapped in 1922. One appreciative passenger was "the Welsh Swagman" Joseph Jenkins who embarked at Melbourne on 24 November 1894, bound for Tilbury Docks in a second-class cabin at the fare of £26 15s 6d; when he first saw the vessel, it appeared so huge that he wrote "it is a wonder to me that it would move". Jenkins, a noted diarist, proceeded to record in detail the 103-day voyage passing through the new Suez Canal. In 1901, as HMS Ophir, she took the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York on their tour of the British Empire; the visit was scheduled to open the new Federal Parliament in Melbourne, but the royal party visited Gibraltar, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, New Zealand, South Africa and Colony of Newfoundland.
The Admiralty provided crew for the tour, while the engine-room staff came from the Orient Company´s own engineers. A petty officer named Harry Price was with the tour from February to November 1901, made a careful record published as The Royal Tour 1901, or the Cruise of H. M. S. Ophir; the 1901 cruise was filmed by CPO McGregor working for AJ West's'Our Navy' company and cinematograph film and lantern slides of the cruise were shown to the British Royal Family and staff at Sandringham on 9 November 1901. On the completion of the royal tour, Ophir was paid off at Tilbury Docks 6 November 1901. Shipping News monograph with photo Interior gallery and saloon at English Heritage Images Cinematographic presentation of the Ophir voyage at Sandringham Our Navy film of the Ophir Cruise shown by Alfred J West by Royal Command at Sandringham
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes
Admiral of the Fleet Roger John Brownlow Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes, was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he served in a corvette operating from Zanzibar on slavery suppression missions. Early in the Boxer Rebellion, he led a mission to capture a flotilla of four Chinese destroyers moored to a wharf on the Peiho River, he was one of the first men to climb over the Peking walls, to break through to the besieged diplomatic legations and to free the legations. During the First World War Keyes was involved in the organisation of the Dardanelles Campaign. Keyes took charge in an operation when six trawlers and a cruiser attempted to clear the Kephez minefield; the operation was a failure, as the Turkish mobile artillery pieces bombarded Keyes' minesweeping squadron. He went on to be Director of Plans at the Admiralty and took command of the Dover Patrol: he altered tactics and the Dover Patrol sank five U-Boats in the first month after implementation of Keyes' plan compared with just two in the previous two years.
He planned and led the famous raids on the German submarine pens in the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend. Between the wars Keyes commanded the Battlecruiser Squadron, the Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet before becoming Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. During the Second World War he became liaison officer to Leopold III, King of the Belgians, he went on to be the first Director of Combined Operations and implemented plans for the training of commandos and raids on hostile coasts. Born the second son of General Sir Charles Patton Keyes of the Indian Army and Katherine Jessie Keyes, Keyes told his parents from an early age: "I am going to be an Admiral". After being brought up in India and the UK, where he attended preparatory school at Margate, he joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship HMS Britannia on 15 July 1885, he was appointed to the cruiser HMS Raleigh, flagship of the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Station, in August 1887. Promoted to midshipman on 15 November 1887, he transferred to the corvette HMS Turquoise, operating from Zanzibar on slavery suppression missions.
Promoted to sub-lieutenant on 14 November 1891 and to lieutenant on 28 August 1893, he joined the sloop HMS Beagle on the Pacific Station that year. After returning home in 1897 he became commanding officer of the destroyer HMS Opossum at Plymouth in January 1898. Keyes was posted out to China to command another destroyer, HMS Hart, in September 1898 transferring to a newer ship, HMS Fame in January 1899. In April 1899 he went to the rescue of a small British force, attacked and surrounded by irregular Chinese forces while attempting to demarcate the border of the Hong Kong New Territories, he went ashore, leading half the landing party, while HMS Fame fired on the besiegers, he led the charge which routed the Chinese and freed the troops. In June 1900, early in the Boxer Rebellion, Keyes led a mission to capture a flotilla of four Chinese destroyers moored to a wharf on the Peiho River. Together with another junior officer, he took boarding parties onto the Chinese destroyers, captured the destroyers and secured the wharf.
Shortly thereafter he led a mission to capture the fortified fort at Hsi-cheng: he loaded HMS Fame with a landing party of 32 men, armed with rifles, pistols and explosives. His men destroyed the Chinese gun mountings, blew up the powder magazine and returned to the ship. Keyes was one of the first men to climb over the Peking walls, to break through to the besieged diplomatic legations and to free the legations. For this he was promoted to commander on 9 November 1900. Keyes recalled about the sack of Beijing: "Every Chinaman...was treated as a Boxer by the Russian and French troops, the slaughter of men and children in retaliation was revolting". Keyes was in May 1901 appointed to the command of the destroyer HMS Bat serving in the Devonport instructional flotilla. In January 1902 he was appointed in command of the destroyer HMS Falcon, which took Bat´s crew and her place in the flotilla, four months he again brought his crew and was appointed in command of the destroyer HMS Sprightly, which served in the flotilla from May 1902.
He was posted to the intelligence section at the Admiralty in 1904 and became naval attaché at the British Embassy in Rome in January 1905. Promoted to captain on 30 June 1905, he was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order on 24 April 1906, he took up command of the cruiser HMS Venus in the Atlantic Fleet in 1908 before going on to be Inspecting Captain of Submarines in 1910 and, having been appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath on 19 June 1911, he became commodore of the Submarine Service in 1912. As head of the Submarine Service, he introduced an element of competition into the construction of submarines, built by Vickers and tended to go to sea in a destroyer because of the primitive visibility from early submarines, he became a naval aide-de-camp to the King on 15 September 1914. When the First World War broke out, Keyes took command of the Eighth Submarine Flotilla at Harwich, he proposed and took part in the first Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914 flying his broad pendant in the destroyer HMS Lurcher.
He went alongside the sinking German cruiser SMS Mainz and picked up 220 survivors for which he was mentioned in dispatches. Keyes became Chief of Staff to Vice-Admiral Sackville Carden, commander of the Royal Navy squadron off the Dardanelles, in February 1915 and was involved in the organisation of the Dardanelles Campaign. After slow progress, the bombardment of the Turkish defences was called off due to low ammunition stocks and fears of a newly laid Turkish minefield. Writing to his wife
The British Mediterranean Fleet known as the Mediterranean Station was part of the Royal Navy. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere; the first Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet was the appointment of General at Sea Robert Blake in September 1654 the Fleet was in existence until 1967. The Royal Navy gained a foothold in the Mediterranean Sea when Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession, formally allocated to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Though the British had maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean before, the capture of Gibraltar allowed the British to establish their first naval base there; the British used Port Mahon, on the island of Menorca, as a naval base. However, British control there was only temporary. In 1800, the British took Malta, to be handed over to the Knights of Malta under the Treaty of Amiens.
When the Napoleonic Wars resumed in 1803, the British kept Malta for use as a naval base. Following Napoleon's defeat, the British continued their presence in Malta, turned it into the main base for the Mediterranean Fleet. Between the 1860s and 1900s, the British undertook a number of projects to improve the harbours and dockyard facilities, Malta's harbours were sufficient to allow the entire fleet to be safely moored there. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the Mediterranean Fleet was the largest single squadron of the Royal Navy, with 10 first-class battleships—double the number in the Channel Fleet—and a large number of smaller warships. On 22 June 1893, the bulk of the fleet, eight battleships and three large cruisers, were conducting their annual summer exercises off Tripoli, when the fleet's flagship, the battleship HMS Victoria, collided with the battleship HMS Camperdown. Victoria sank within fifteen minutes. Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, was among the dead.
Of the three original Invincible-class battlecruisers which entered service in the first half of 1908, two joined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1914. They and Indefatigable formed the nucleus of the fleet at the start of the First World War when British forces pursued the German ships Goeben and Breslau. A modernised Warspite became the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief and Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet in 1926. Malta, as part of the British Empire from 1814, was a shipping station and was the headquarters for the Mediterranean Fleet until the mid-1930s. Due to the perceived threat of air-attack from the Italian mainland, the fleet was moved to Alexandria, Egypt shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Sir Andrew Cunningham took command of the fleet from Warspite on 3 September 1939, under him the major formations of the Fleet were the 1st Battle Squadron 1st Cruiser Squadron, 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Rear Admiral John Tovey, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Destroyer Flotillas, the aircraft carrier Glorious.
In 1940, the Mediterranean Fleet carried out a successful aircraft carrier attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto by air. Other major actions included the Battle of Crete; the Fleet had to block Italian and German reinforcements and supplies for the North African Campaign. In October 1946, Saumarez hit a mine in the Corfu Channel, starting a series of events known as the Corfu Channel Incident; the channel was cleared in "Operation Recoil" the next month, involving 11 minesweepers under the guidance of Ocean, two cruisers, three destroyers, three frigates. In May 1948, Sir Arthur Power took over as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, in his first act arranged a show of force to discourage the crossing of Jewish refugees into Palestine; when that year Britain pulled out of the British Mandate of Palestine, four destroyers, two frigates escorted the departing High Commissioner, aboard the cruiser Euryalus. The force stayed to cover the evacuation of British troops into the Haifa enclave and south via Gaza.
From 1952 to 1967, the post of Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet was given a dual-hatted role as NATO Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Mediterranean in charge of all forces assigned to NATO in the Mediterranean Area. The British made strong representations within NATO in discussions regarding the development of the Mediterranean NATO command structure, wishing to retain their direction of NATO naval command in the Mediterranean to protect their sea lines of communication running through the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Far East; when a NATO naval commander, Admiral Robert B. Carney, C-in-C Allied Forces Southern Europe, was appointed, relations with the incumbent British C-in-C, Admiral Sir John Edelsten, were frosty. Edlesten, on making an friendly offer of the use of communications facilities to Carney, who lacked secure communications facilities, was met with "I'm not about to play Faust to your Mephistopheles through the medium of communications!":261In 1956, ships of the fleet, together with the French Navy, took part in the Suez War against Egypt.
From 1957 to 1959, Rear Admiral Charles Madden held the post of Flag Officer Malta, with responsibilities for three squadrons of minesweepers, an amphibious warfare squadron, a flotilla of submarines stationed at the bases around Valletta Harbour. In this capacity, he had to employ considerab
Legion of Honour
The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and retained by all French governments and régimes. The order's motto is Honneur et Patrie, its seat is the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur next to the Musée d'Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine in Paris; the order is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier, Commandeur, Grand officier, Grand-croix. During the French Revolution, all of the French orders of chivalry were abolished, replaced with Weapons of Honour, it was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers. From this wish was instituted a Légion d'honneur, a body of men, not an order of chivalry, for Napoleon believed that France wanted a recognition of merit rather than a new system of nobility. However, the Légion d'honneur did use the organization of the old French orders of chivalry, for example the Ordre de Saint-Louis; the insignia of the Légion d'honneur bear a resemblance to those of the Ordre de Saint-Louis, which used a red ribbon.
Napoleon created this award to ensure political loyalty. The organization would be used as a façade to give political favours and concessions; the Légion d'honneur was loosely patterned after a Roman legion, with legionaries, commanders, regional "cohorts" and a grand council. The highest rank was not a Grand Cross but a Grand aigle, a rank that wore the insignia common to a Grand Cross; the members were paid, the highest of them generously: 5,000 francs to a grand officier, 2,000 francs to a commandeur, 1,000 francs to an officier, 250 francs to a légionnaire. Napoleon famously declared, "You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led... Do you think that you would be able to make men fight by reasoning? Never; that is good only for the scholar in his study. The soldier needs glory, rewards." This has been quoted as "It is with such baubles that men are led." The order was the first modern order of merit. Under the monarchy, such orders were limited to Roman Catholics, all knights had to be noblemen.
The military decorations were the perks of the officers. The Légion d'honneur, was open to men of all ranks and professions—only merit or bravery counted; the new legionnaire had to be sworn into the Légion d'honneur. It is noteworthy that all previous orders were crosses or shared a clear Christian background, whereas the Légion d'honneur is a secular institution; the badge of the Légion d'honneur has five arms. In a decree issued on the 10 Pluviôse XIII, a grand decoration was instituted; this decoration, a cross on a large sash and a silver star with an eagle, symbol of the Napoleonic Empire, became known as the Grand aigle, in 1814 as the Grand cordon. After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French in 1804 and established the Napoleonic nobility in 1808, award of the Légion d'honneur gave right to the title of "Knight of the Empire"; the title was made hereditary after three generations of grantees. Napoleon had dispensed 15 golden collars of the Légion d'honneur among his family and his senior ministers.
This collar was abolished in 1815. Although research is made difficult by the loss of the archives, it is known that three women who fought with the army were decorated with the order: Virginie Ghesquière, Marie-Jeanne Schelling and a nun, Sister Anne Biget; the Légion d'honneur was visible in the French Empire. The Emperor always wore it and the fashion of the time allowed for decorations to be worn most of the time; the king of Sweden therefore declined the order. Napoleon's own decorations were captured by the Prussians and were displayed in the Zeughaus in Berlin until 1945. Today, they are in Moscow. Louis XVIII changed the appearance of the order. To have done so would have angered the 35,000 to 38,000 members; the images of Napoleon and his eagle were removed and replaced by the image of King Henry IV, the popular first king of the Bourbon line. Three Bourbon fleurs-de-lys replaced the eagle on the reverse of the order. A king's crown replaced the imperial crown. In 1816, the grand cordons were renamed grand crosses and the legionnaires became knights.
The king decreed. The Légion d'honneur became the second-ranking order of knighthood of the French monarchy, after the Order of the Holy Spirit. Following the overthrow of the Bourbons in favour of King Louis Philippe I of the House of Orléans, the Bourbon monarchy's orders were once again abolished and the Légion d'honneur was restored in 1830 as the paramount decoration of the French nation; the insignia were drastically altered. In 1847, there were 47,000 members, yet another revolution in Paris brought a new design to the Légion d'honneur. A nephew of the founder, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, was elected president and he restored the image of his uncle on the crosses of the order. In 1852, the first recorded woman, Angélique Duchemin, an old revolutionary of the 1789 uprising against the absolute monarchy, was admitted into the order. On 2 December 1851, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte staged a coup d'état with the help of the armed forces, he made himself Emperor of the French one year on 2 December 1852, after a successful plebiscite.
An Imperial crown was added. During Napoleon III's reign, the first American was admitted
Parliament of Australia
The Parliament of Australia is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the Senate and the House of Representatives; the combination of two elected chambers, in which the members of the Senate represent the states and territories while the members of the House represent electoral divisions according to population, is modelled on the United States Congress. Through both chambers, there is a fused executive, drawn from the Westminster system; the upper house, the Senate, consists of 76 members: twelve for each state, two each for the territories, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Senators are elected using the single transferable vote proportional representation system and as a result, the chamber features a multitude of parties vying for power; the governing party or coalition has not held a majority in the Senate since 1981 and needs to negotiate with other parties and Independents to get legislation passed. The lower house, the House of Representatives consists of 150 members, each elected using full-preference instant-runoff voting from single-member constituencies known as electoral divisions.
This tends to lead to the chamber being dominated by two major political groups, the centre-right Coalition and the centre-left Labor Party. The government of the day must achieve the confidence of this House in order to gain and remain in power. Although elections can be called early, every three years the full House of Representatives and half of the Senate is dissolved and goes up for reelection. A deadlock-breaking mechanism known as a double dissolution can be used to dissolve the full Senate as well as the House in the event that the Upper House twice refuses to pass a piece of legislation passed by the Lower House; the two Houses meet in separate chambers of Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth of Australia came into being on 1 January 1901 with the federation of the six Australian colonies; the inaugural election took place on 29 and 30 March and the first Australian Parliament was opened on 9 May 1901 in Melbourne by Prince George, Duke of Cornwall and York King George V.
The only building in Melbourne, large enough to accommodate the 14,000 guests was the western annexe of the Royal Exhibition Building. After the official opening, from 1901 to 1927 the Parliament met in Parliament House, which it borrowed from the Parliament of Victoria, it had always been intended. This was a compromise at Federation due to the rivalry between the two largest Australian cities and Melbourne, which both wished to become the new capital; the site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital city in 1908. A competition was announced on 30 June 1914 to design Parliament House, with prize money of £7,000. However, due to the start of World War I the next month, the competition was cancelled, it was re-announced in August 1916, but again postponed indefinitely on 24 November 1916. In the meantime, John Smith Murdoch, the Commonwealth's Chief Architect, worked on the design as part of his official duties, he had little personal enthusiasm for the project, as he felt it was a waste of money and expenditure on it could not be justified at the time.
He designed the building by default. The construction of Old Parliament House, as it is called today, commenced on 28 August 1923 and was completed in early 1927, it was built by the Commonwealth Department of Works, using tradesmen and materials from all over Australia. The final cost was about £600,000, more than three times the original estimate, it was designed to house the parliament for a maximum of 50 years until a permanent facility could be built, but was so used for more than 60 years. The building was opened on 9 May 1927 by the Duchess of York; the opening ceremonies were both splendid and incongruous, given the sparsely built nature of Canberra of the time and its small population. The building was extensively decorated with British Empire and Australian flags and bunting. Temporary stands were erected bordering the lawns in front of the Parliament and these were filled with crowds. A Wiradjuri elder, Jimmy Clements, was one of only two aboriginal Australians present, having walked for about a week from Brungle Station to be at the event.
Dame Nellie Melba sang the National anthem. The Duke of York unlocked the front doors with a golden key, led the official party into King's Hall where he unveiled the statue of his father, King George V; the Duke opened the first parliamentary session in the new Senate Chamber. In 1978 the Fraser Government decided to proceed with a new building on Capital Hill, the Parliament House Construction Authority was created. A two-stage competition was announced, for which the Authority consulted the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and, together with the National Capital Development Commission, made available to competitors a brief and competition documents; the design competition drew 329 entries from 29 countries. The competition winner was the Philadelphia-based architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola, with the on-site wor