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Locker #2001-1893Ministerial Party Room, North Wing, Main Floor

Maple locker with four columns of eight cupboards of varying sizes; each cupboard has a round knob and lock on the left side, the larger cupboard doors have brass-name plates in the centre, while the smaller cupboard doors have a rectangular cavity upper centre; top, base and right side are missing.

History

This locker was used in the Provisional Parliament House. No plans drawn by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department have been located for this object, but photographs show this locker (or a locker of this same type) was located in the Government Party Room (M96) in the 1920s. Due to this, and the similarity of the design with the other ‘stripped-classical’ furniture in the collection, it is highly likely that it was designed by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department and built 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). It is made of maple. Photographs also show this locker originally had three other sections attached: a base, a top, and another block of lockers the same size as these (attached to the right hand side).

These lockers also doubled up as mailboxes. It is evident, through early photographs of the building, that lockers were used in the Government Party Room and the Opposition Party Room, at least until the 1960s. When this building was designed, no provision was made for offices for backbench Members and Senators; they were expected to make use of their party rooms to attend to any business they needed to transact outside the Chambers. At the behest of Speaker William Watt, they were also provided with desks to work on in the chambers, and here also lockable drawers were provided. He wanted to encourage backbenchers to work in the chamber so they would be visible to visitors, but small desks were also provided in the party rooms for backbenchers to use. Ministers and party leaders had offices elsewhere, although front-bench opposition members in the House of Representatives did not at first have this provision made for them. From the 1960s on office accommodation for all parliamentarians was gradually achieved, although often shared with others. This locker is evidence of the furniture provided to parliamentarians for this purpose.

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Statement of values

This locker 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 Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices.

Details

Width 1750mm
Height 1860mm
Depth 500mm
Medium Maple; metal; timber
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Circa 1920s