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House of Representatives Press Chair #2001-1353

Maple chair with overstuffed padded seat, and padded back with timber frame, upholstered in green leather, on tapered block legs.


This chair was used as a press chair in the press gallery in the House of Representatives Chamber. Provisional Parliament House was one of the first of its kind to provide specially built accommodation for journalists within the legislative chamber (above the presiding officers in each chamber) marking the increasing importance of the media to both parliament and in everyday life. Peter Logue, Press Gallery journalist between 1977 and the 1990s, made the comment:

‘…sitting in the Parliament for hours on end late at night could often be boring. But it was a good way to know all the politicians in the two Chambers and to gain a basic understanding of the many difficult issues that make up Australian political life.’

While never formally accepted by Parliament as a right, the presence of media representatives in Parliament is a courtesy which Parliament extends to members of the Press Gallery and can be withdrawn at any time. The daily regulation of the journalists in the Chamber is a matter for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who may withdraw permission to be in the Chamber until further notice. This practice originates in Parliament in the United Kingdom, which has never granted rights to its Press, merely permitting them to be present in Parliament as a privilege. This privilege is able to be withdrawn when secret sittings are desired (for example during wartime) or when an individual or newspaper transgresses.

This chair was manufactured by Beard Watson & Co Ltd, one of the six firms that were contracted to construct Murdoch’s designs. Beard Watson & Co Ltd were renowned in Sydney as a retailer and manufacturer of high class furnishings, initially manufacturing floor coverings and carpets but diversifying into furniture in 1901. A 1917 article in The Australian Manufacturer stated of Beard Watson that ‘the furniture it sells, and particularly the furniture it produces, is distinguished at once for its good workmanship and for its artistic beauty.’

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Statement of values

This press chair is significant through its association with the House of Representatives Chamber and with the nature of press access to formal Parliamentary processes. The House of Representatives Chamber is highly significant as a venue for the debates, petitions and votes associated with 61 years of Australian legislature, and recognisable by its green leather upholstery.

This press chair is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the House, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.

  • House of Representatives Press ChairHouse of Representatives Press Chair —


Width 480mm
Height 860mm
Depth 520mm
Medium Maple; timber; leather; textile
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created Circa 1927