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media representatives in Parliament is a courtesy which Parliament extends to members of the Press Gallery and can be withdrawn at any time.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 This privilege is able to be withdrawn when secret sittings are desired (for example during wartime) or when an individual or newspaper transgresses.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.’