Ministerial Party Room — M96North Wing, Main Floor
The Government Party Room was used as a meeting room solely for the Senators and Members of the governing party. As the place where ministers and backbenchers resolved important and often highly contentious matters of the day, this room has seen some of the most divisive moments in the history of the Federal Parliament, as well as being the forum of party unity. This room is a simple space, with little and subtle decoration. The simple lines and minimal embellishments of principal architect of the Architects Department of the Federal Capital Commission, John Smith Murdoch’s Inter War Stripped Classical style are evident throughout the furniture and architecture. The green colour scheme in this room, reflected in the carpet, chairs and settees, represents the House of Representatives. In designing the building Murdoch made no provision for offices for Members and Senators; they were expected to make use of their party rooms to attend to any business they needed to transact outside of the Chambers. To facilitate this, the Government Party Room contained desks, tables, easy chairs, settees, mailboxes, bookcases and telephone booths.
Countless important decisions and events took place in this room; for example on 10 March 1971 a meeting was held in this room to discuss and vote on a motion of confidence in John Gorton as Prime Minister. With the votes tied Gorton declared ‘that is not a state of confidence’ and resigned as Prime Minister. It was notoriously difficult to keep party secrets from leaking from this room: apart from the indiscretions of Senators and Members, the doors open opposite the stairway to the Press Gallery, and raised voices could be heard easily. For this reason one of the first steps taken by the Scullin government when it took power in 1929 was to install an extra set of green baize doors in the entry lobby. These were removed in the Hawke years, and have been recreated in reproduction form.