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A fire was lit as part of a traditional smoking ceremony by demonstrators, but it quickly spread to consume the entrance of the building.

Protesters were seen jeering and clapping as the building burned.

Firefighters responding at the fire-damaged front entrance of Old Parliament House following a protest.
Firefighters responding at the fire-damaged front entrance of Old Parliament House following a protest. (Andrew Ellinghausen)

Mr Littleproud told Today it was a “sad day for our democracy”.

“No matter your race, no matter your religion, no matter your beliefs – no one has the right to vandalise a symbol of our democracy,” he said.

“I get people have to have a cause these days, they have to be angry, but vandalism is not the way to do it.

“I think we’re better than that as a nation.”

Former Nine News presenter John Mangos used to work as a correspondent in Old Parliament House, and was “speechless” to see entrance burning.

Old Parliament House on fire in Canberra.
Old Parliament House on fire in Canberra. (Heidi Murphy)

“It’s an ornament to Australia. It’s an ornament to Australian architecture,” he said.

“That very spot is where Gough Whitlam famously said ‘May God save the Queen because nothing will save the governor-general’.”

Not everyone was as sad to see the building burn.

Firefighters sweeping after extinguishing the blaze at Old Parliament House in Canberra.
Firefighters sweeping after extinguishing the blaze at Old Parliament House in Canberra. (Alex Ellinghausen)

The building was quickly evacuated and the fire extinguished by ACT Fire and Rescue.

Nobody was hurt during the fire, but the interior of the building sustained extensive water damage.

Police are seeking to review CCTV footage from inside the building at the time the fire was lit.

So far, no arrests have been made and no charges have been laid.

2021 in review: The biggest news stories that rocked Australia

Old Parliament House will remain closed during the investigation.

Source: 9News

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