Rare antiques feared stolen from Australian parliament

SYDNEY, June 28, 2006 (AFP) – Australian police were Wednesday investigating claims that politicians and their staff may have stolen antiques worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from Queensland’s state parliament.

Parliamentary Speaker Tony McGrady said he had referred the matter to police after being alerted to the disappearance of a number of items by a former attendant at the historic building.

McGrady said that politicians, the spouse of a former parliamentarian and staff members had been mentioned as being behind the removal of antiques, fittings and artwork more than a decade ago.

He declined to comment on whether any of those named were serving MPs.

The missing items include the mechanisms of two antique wall clocks and rare mahogany and yellowwood chairs dating back to 1860.

"I am angry… because if these allegations are true, people who secured the support of the people of their electorate and came to represent them in the parliament, betrayed the trust of these people by thieving pieces of furniture," he said.

The allegations stem from the findings of a 1991 stocktake which found that dozens of items were no longer to be found in the 130-year-old Brisbane landmark building.

The clerk who commissioned the stocktake died shortly afterwards and no effort was made to track the missing items until McGrady was informed of the findings on Monday.

This is not the first time a stocktake has uncovered theft at Queensland’s Parliament House. Silverware and cutlery worth 13,000 dollars (9,540 US dollars) was discovered missing two years ago.

All parliamentary items are now barcoded and annual stocktakes conducted.