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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.

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Statement of values

This Cabinet room chair is significant through its association with Cabinet meetings and the Cabinet room itself. Many of the decisions made sitting at the Cabinet table still have an effect upon all Australians, our democratic society, and our relationship with the rest of the world. The Cabinet room chair is significant through its association with important people in Australian political history: all Prime Ministers from 1927 to 1972 and their Cabinet Ministers.

This Cabinet room chair is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.

  • Cabinet Room ChairCabinet Room Chair —


Width 630mm
Height 1050mm
Depth 550mm
Medium Maple; timber; leather; textile; metal
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created 1927