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Old Parliament House SET ON FIRE - who is responsible for the blaze?

Multiple conflicting reports have emerged about what led up to the fire.

The front entrance of Old Parliament House has been set on fire, as protests continue outside the building in Canberra.


The building, which was the Federal Parliament from 1927 to 1988, now is home to the Museum of Australian Democracy.


Emergency crews arrived at the scene at about 11:30am AEDT, before some protesters attacked members of the media, according to the ABC.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned what happened at a press conference today, saying he is "disgusted and appalled by behaviour that would see Australians come and set fire to such a symbol of democracy in this country."


"We have a rule of law in this country and people should obey it."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tweeted that "we will restore the building & ensure it remains a welcoming place for all visitors."


Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews also declared that "anyone who participates in violent and destructive protest activity should face the full force of the law.

But right now, we're still learning more information about what happened.


How did it start?

There have been several unconfirmed reports about what caused the blaze online, including that pepper spray from police contributed to it.


Others claimed that the fire began as a when a smoking ceremony got out of control.


Just last week, the building was forced to close after another fire.


Ben Morton, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, said at the time that "protesters lit a fire that got out of control and it scorched the front door," the ABC reported.


"I don't believe it was their intention to do any damage; however, we had to ask them to move on."


The cause of today's fire wasn't immediately clear immediately.


Who was protesting?

Crowds began gathering last week ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy next month.


The Tent Embassy said in a statement that they "(do) not condone the actions of protestors who occupied the steps of Old Parliament House."


"Although we support the concept of nonviolent direct action, we do not condone the destruction of public and private property."

"The actions of such protestors conducting a "Smoking Ceremony" was done so without the

knowledge, consent or mandate of the Embassy Council and Traditional Owners responsible for the regulation of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy."


Some online have blamed anti-vax groups & linked it to recent 'Freedom Rallies,' while a handful of protesters identified themselves as part of anti-government and "sovereign citizen" groups, the BBC reported.


Greens Senator deletes tweet

Lidia Thorpe, a Greens Senator representing Victoria, tweeted of the fire that it "seems like the colonial system is burning down."


"Happy New Year everyone," she added.


The tweet was deleted following backlash on all sides of politics, with Liberal Senator Jane Hume one of many commenting on it on social media.


Greens Leader Adam Bandt later tweeted that "if this was arson, it’s unacceptable."

Watch the PM's full reaction here.


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