House of Representatives Chamber Reporters Stool #1999-0479House of Representatives Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor
Blackwood bench stool with re-upholstered green leather sprung padded top; plain apron with raised circles above legs; block capped square section tapering legs on later added slides.
The reporters stool is still located in the House of Representatives Chamber where it was used by Hansard Reporters between 1927 and 1988. This stool was designed in 1926 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for the Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for this reporter’s stool 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 Britain. This reporter’s stool and the majority of the ceremonial furniture in both Chambers were built by Beard Watson & Co Ltd. The stool is made out of leather supplied by Howe Bros of Preston, Victoria.
This stool was used by Hansard Reporters in the House of Representatives Chamber when Parliament was in session. The term “Hansard” refers to the transcripts of the speeches given in the Commonwealth Parliament and comes from Thomas Hansard, a publisher who printed the reports of the proceedings in the British House of Commons in the early 19th Century. As it was the official account of proceedings it was important to record all that was said when Parliament was in session and to ensure that the transcripts were factual and complete.
A team of nine Parliamentary Reporters was assigned to the House of Representatives Chamber when it was in session. Each reporter had a five or ten minute shift recording the proceedings in the Chamber. During their shift, the reporter would sit on this stool at the end of the large table (1999-1431) in the centre of the room. They would record everything that was said in shorthand (an abbreviated writing method), using paper and pen. When their turn was nearly over the next reporter would enter the Chamber and sit next to them on the stool. Once there was an appropriate break in the proceedings or in the speech being delivered, the new reporter would say ?okay? or tap the table and the other reporter would leave the Chamber. This stool was used in order to facilitate quick changeovers, as it was imperative that the reporters recorded everything that was said. Bernie Harris, a Hansard reporter at the Provisional Parliament House from April 2nd 1964 (and Chief Hansard Reporter from 1990 to 2002), remembers the stool being knocked over three times during this changeover. The reporter then had to stand, still writing, until an attendant came and up righted the stool (Harris, Bernie, Interview with Freya Clawley, 2011).
Once their turn recording the proceedings was over, the Hansard reporter would return to the Hansard office, which was located in the Provisional Parliament House (initially in the front east corner of the lower floor, later on the third floor of the Senate wing), and dictate their notes to a high speed typist. This ?proof? would be typed onto paper with carbon copies (four copies in total for Question Time and three copies for other proceedings). The copies consisted of a white copy that was sent to the Government Printing Office, a pink copy for Senators (also referred to as ?pinks?), a green copy for Members (also referred to as ?greens?) and a yellow copy that was kept by Hansard staff. The reporter then took the white copy, checked all the details such as names and quotes were correct, and marked it up for the Government Printer. This was also checked by a supervisor for editorial purposes. This whole process happened in 40 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes from commencing the turn, the reporter returned to the Chamber, and the cycle started again.
Before the white copy of the proceedings was sent to the Government Printer, the pink or green copy (depending on whether it had been recorded in the Senate or House of Representatives Chamber) needed to be checked by the Senator or Member who had delivered the speech. The appropriate copy was rolled up and inserted into a Lamsom tube container, which was then delivered via pneumatic tubes to the Chamber. The Member or Senator would then make amendments on the copy and send it back to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff office. However, if they had already left the Chamber the document would be delivered to them. The Member or Senator then placed the copy with their amendments into a box (1999-1331) in King?s Hall so it could be collected by an attendant and taken to the office. Minor amendments were accepted by the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and recorded on the white copy, but politicians were not allowed to rewrite the document. Once this process had been completed the white copy was sent off, via pneumatic tubes, to the Government Printing Office to be printed.