Country Party Room — M4North Wing, Main Floor
In 1927, Labor Senators occupied what was then known as the Senate Opposition Party Room (M4). When the Labor Senators moved into the Senate Ministerial Party Room after Scullin’s victory in 1929, the Country Party took occupation of the room where it would remain until the parliament moved in 1988. This was because the Third Party Room, off the Government lobby of the Representatives side of the House and originally occupied by the Country Party, was turned into ministerial offices in the early 1930s while the Country Party was in opposition.
The Country Party Room was a meeting room and a working party room which both Senators and Members used. Members and Senators would attend coalition meetings in either the government or opposition party rooms but the Country Party Room played an important role in helping the party maintain a separate and unique identity within the coalition. Notably, the Country Party remained in its party room whether in government or opposition, and saw the Country Party through a variety of name changes from the Australian Country Party, to the National Country Party, and finally to the National Party of Australia. The party is today known as The Nationals.
The Country Party Room has changed very little since its construction in the 1920s. Over the years, the colour of the walls changed and fitted carpet replaced a carpet square. In the early 1970s, furniture was altered, the small desks were no longer needed and the Country Party requested a television. The 1980s room was a comfortable, attractive space still featuring the original table and chairs. All the furniture that occupies the room was made of Australian timbers, comprising blackwood, silky oak, Queensland maple, and cedar.
In designing the building Murdoch was not able to make provision for offices for backbench Members and Senators; therefore party rooms were intended so that users could attend to correspondence and any other business they needed to transact outside the Chambers. The Country Party Room is one of five designated Party rooms in Provisional Parliament House. The central table is the original Cabinet Table from the West Block cabinet suite in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. After Cabinet moved permanently into Parliament House in the early 1930s, where a large oval table was already in use, it appears to have been transferred to the Country Party Room probably in the mid 1930s. It remained there until 1988. It was later used in the National Party rooms at Parliament House from 1988 to 2003. This table was returned to the museum on 27 October 2003.