Anteroom, President of the Senate’s Suite — M13.7North Wing, Main Floor
This anteroom was used as a dining room in the President of the Senate’s suite.
This suite of rooms was occupied by the President and his staff throughout the life span of the building. The President is the Presiding Officer in the Senate and is elected in a secret ballot by fellow Senators. The President of the Senate has administrative responsibilities for the Department of the Senate and is responsible for managing proceedings, maintaining order in the Senate and upholding the Standing Orders. The ceremonial duties of the President of the Senate include participation in the opening of Parliament and visits by foreign Heads of State and receiving delegations visiting Australia from other nations, and other distinguished visitors to the Senate. Hospitality for these events is one aspect of the responsibilities of the President’s office. The kitchen and pantry were required as part of the Site refurbishment to support these duties.
This suite included offices (for the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, and their staff), a dining room, waiting room, kitchens, bathrooms and a change room. The suite was also made available to important visitors such as Queen Elizabeth II and the Governor-General when they visited the Provisional Parliament House. As a whole the suite demonstrates the importance of the President’s position as well as the responsibilities of this role, such as chairing meetings and committees and entertaining important guests and dignitaries.
The dining room was a focal point in the President of the Senate’s suite as the President hosted many dinners for visiting dignitaries here. One reason for the 1972 extensions in this suite was that the President needed extra space to entertain the increasing number of heads of state and other dignitaries who were able to visit Australia easily by air. The last President of the Senate to serve at Old Parliament House, Kerry Sibraa (President 1987 - 1994) claimed that at that time his dining room was the best in the building:
‘And in fact, if the Prime Minister was entertaining a large number of people, he used to have to ask my permission to use my dining room.’