Queen’s Room, President of the Senate’s Suite — M13.8North Wing, Main Floor
This room has been used for a variety of functions. It was used as the Queen’s room (post 1972) and at different times either as a waiting room or as the main office for the President (1972 - 1988) 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. 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 President of the Senate is responsible for controlling business and debate in the Senate chamber. Along with the Speaker, the President manages Parliament House. Because the President ranks just below the Governor-General and the Prime Minister in the Australian system of Government, the Senate usually elects an experienced Senator to the position. The President has a wide range of responsibilities and rights including:
- the entitlement to vote in every division;
- the administration of the Department of the Senate; and
- taking a prominent role in the ceremonial openings of parliament and visits by heads of state.
After the 1972 extensions this room and the larger front room (M13.9) were used as the main office and waiting room for the President. Some Presidents used this room as the place where visitors could wait to see them and used the larger room as their main office, while other Presidents used this room as their office and the front room as their waiting room (verbal information from Doug McClelland, President of the Senate 1983-87). On a 1971 plan drawn by the Department of Works this room is labelled the ‘Queen’s Room’. Furniture, such as a table with a retractable mirror in the centre (1999-1223 Desk), was also crafted with Queen Elizabeth II in mind. It is known that she utilised the President of the Senate’s suite during her visits to the building and it is highly likely that she used this particular room (and others) during her visits in the 1970s and 1980s.