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House of Representatives Pen that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0266

Green and silver ball point pen with the inscription ‘HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AUSTRALIA’ in gold.


This pen is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.

This pen belonged to Arthur Calwell. In the 1950s-70s the differentiation of the two chambers by way of colour was greatly enhanced throughout the Provisional Parliament House. Furniture that had previously been blue or brown was painted green or red, carpets were laid over blue lino, and a number of other markers of difference were established. This pen stems from this development, which is perhaps partly explained by the expansion of the parliament in 1950, as well as other measures taken by parliamentarians and staff of the parliamentary departments to further emphasise the long-standing differences between the two houses of parliament.

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This pen is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This pen is significant because it is evidence of the ‘branding’ of the chamber departments, particularly in the 1950s and 60s.


Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

  • House of Representatives Pen that belonged to Arthur CalwellHouse of Representatives Pen that belonged to Arthur Calwell —


Width 31mm
Height 142mm
Depth 9mm
Medium Plastic; metal
Creator’s name Bic
Date created Unknown