President’s Chair #1999-1437
A maple Presiding Officer’s Chair with an arch crested top rail with a central roundel moulding flanking a pair of triangular mouldings; the moulded side rails with scroll cresting; padded back, elbow rests and seat upholstered in red leather; the arm with scroll terminals; circular moulding on the rear of the chair back; circular cresting on tapering square section legs with block feet.
The President’s Chair was presented to the Senate by the Government of the Dominion of Canada to mark the opening of Provisional Parliament House in 1927, and is one of only two recorded international gifts of ceremonial furniture (the other being the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Representatives). The Chair was made in Canada with the approval of John Smith Murdoch, the architect of Provisional Parliament House and designer of its furniture, who provided preliminary drawings and samples of the blackwood and leather to be used in the Chamber. The President’s Chair was manufactured using Canadian maple and leather. While the full complement of furniture was installed for the opening of Parliament in the new building on 9 May 1927, the President of the Senate’s Chair did not arrive until October 1927, and was used for the first time on 13 October 1927.
In 1935 the Graziers’ Federal Council of Australia petitioned the Prime Minister to replace the leather upholstery on the Chair with wool to emphasise the importance of the Australian wool industry, and in line with the Lord Chancellor’s Chair in the House of Lords in England which was upholstered in wool. The President of the Senate Patrick Lynch denied the request since it would alter a generous gift from the Canadian government and risk diplomatic repercussions, would not be practical in warm weather, and could open the floodgates to lobbying from other industry groups.