House of Representatives Chamber Table #1999-0429House of Representatives Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor
Blackwood Parliamentary table of ‘T’ shape with a plain top, moulded edge and curved ends inset with tooled green leather in nine panels; over an arrangement of eleven small drawers with wooden drawer pulls; recessed base with panelled sides and four inset bronze vent grilles, on a moulded platform; two sets of mace brackets fitted to the foot of the table-one fixed to the table top, the other set hinged below the apron.
The House of Representatives Chamber table is still located in the centre of the Chamber where it was used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988. The table was designed in 1926 by the Architects Department of the Federal Capital Commission, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for this centre table and the other Chamber furniture was inspired by the Westminster system of Parliament and the green and red colours of the two Chambers reflect the colour scheme of the lower and upper houses in the British House of Commons.
The table was built by Beard Watson and Co Ltd of blackwood with an edging of black bean and with leather supplied by Howe and Co. Ltd. The central table was a significant focal point in the House of Representatives Chamber as it was primarily around this table that the discussions and debates in this space took place. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition sat at this table on the Government and Opposition side respectively, a practice which may have originated from similar seating arrangements in Melbourne. A reporter’s stool and chair were placed at the foot of the table on the Opposition side for the Hansard Reporters to transcribe the proceedings. The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition addressed the House from one of two ornate despatch boxes on either side of the table that had been a gift from King George V in 1927. Other objects on the table included the Mace (a symbol of the Speaker’s authority), a two-minute sand glass, copies of the Constitution, recent Hansard volumes and stationery racks.