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Bathroom, Speaker of the House of Representatives’ Suite — M81.1North Wing, Main Floor

This bathroom was part of a suite of rooms that was occupied by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his staff throughout the time the building operated as a working parliament. Many important politicians occupied this suite including the first Speaker at the Provisional Parliament House, Sir Littleton Groom (1926 to 1929), and Joan Child (1986 to 1989) who was the first female Speaker and the last Speaker at the Provisional Parliament House. The Speaker’s most important duty was to preside over and maintain control of debate in the House of Representatives Chamber. Outside the Chamber the Speaker managed the Provisional Parliament House together with the President of the Senate; their large corner suites reflect the status of the two presiding officers. This suite includes offices (for the Speaker and his staff), a dining room, bar, sitting room and bathroom.

This bathroom also contained a small dressing room, or ‘robing room’. Traditionally, Speakers wore a full black gown, wig and a lace jabot and cuffs in the Chamber and for ceremonial occasions. Sir Billy Snedden (1976 to 1983) was the last Speaker of the House of Representatives to wear full regalia. Speakers from the Australian Labor Party did not wear formal regalia. The first Labor Speaker in the Provisional Parliament House, Norman Makin (1929 to 1932) substituted a black suit and bow-tie for the traditional regalia (that he referred to as ‘fancy dress’). However, he did not stop the Clerks at the table from wearing their wigs. The wig used by Speakers after 1940 was a full-bottom judges’ wig presented to the Parliament by Dr H.V. Evatt after he left the High Court to re-enter Parliament, and is on display in the suite.