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Senate Government Party Room — M44North Wing, Main Floor

The Senate Government Party room, M44, served as a meeting room solely for government Senators. Also referred to as the Senate Ministerial Party room, it was in this room that many meetings took place to debate and discuss political matters.

The room featured comfortable club-style lounges and easy chairs, tables, mail boxes, large glass-fronted bookcases and sound-proof telephone boxes. The room was set up in this way to be comfortable and functional for Senators without their own office space. Members and Senators made use of their party rooms to attend to correspondence and any other business they needed to transact outside Chambers while they were in Canberra. It was also a place to congregate in a relaxed atmosphere to converse, write letters, read, or to enjoy film nights. During parliamentary sessions they gathered at least weekly for party meetings.

Only minor changes occurred in this room over 61 years of Parliament’s use of the building. The 1943 Senate Wing extension took space for a corridor and eventually, with further additions, granted Senators their own offices, resulting in the removal of lockers from the Party room. Telephone boxes were added during the late 1950s or early 1960s whilst a television and ‘Berber’ wool coverings for the armchairs arrived in the 1970s. All the furniture in the room is made of Australian timbers, comprising blackwood, silky oak, Queensland maple, and cedar.

Amongst the many significant people to have used the Senate Government Party room were Senator Dorothy Tangney, the first woman Senator (1943 - 1968), and Senator Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal parliamentarian (1971 - 1983).