Cabinet Room Chair #1999-2055Prime Minister’s Office, North Wing, Main Floor
Maple swivel open armchair; moulded panelled horizontal top rail, with a padded rectangular back, arm rests and stuff over seat, upholstered in brown leather; with reeded and panelled arm supports, raised on a panelled cross stretcher base with metal castors.
This Cabinet room chair was designed in 1927 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for the Provisional Parliament House. This chair was manufactured by one of the six firms that were contracted to construct Murdoch’s designs (Myer Emporium Pty Ltd, Anthony Hordern and Sons, A Pengelly and Co, W H Rocke and Co, Beard Watson & Co, and Bebarfalds Ltd).
This chair was used as one of the Cabinet room chairs in the Cabinet Room (M88) at the Provisional Parliament House. Cabinet is the group of senior Ministers who meet to make nearly all the major decisions of government. Cabinet meetings are confidential and secret; even new governments are not allowed to see the records of a previous government’s meetings, as records of decisions are not released for 20 years and the Cabinet notebooks for 30 years. Until changes to the Archives Act in 2010, these closed periods were even longer. The change to access periods is being phased in over a ten-year period. Sitting at the Cabinet table, members of the government can argue and disagree, but when decisions are debated openly in Parliament the government presents a united voice.
Photographs show these chairs were definitely in use in 1930s and 1940s, although it is not clear whether they were originally located in the Cabinet Room at the Provisional Parliament House or at West Block. A photograph shows that by 1968 a different set of chairs were in use.