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The Speaker’s Chair in Old Parliament House – “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” – Rob Chalmers

May 22nd, 2012 · No Comments · Architecture, Australiana, Culture, History, Politics

During the visit (in 1926 of the Empire Parliamentary Association) to the still unfinished provisional Parliament House, the delegation presented a gift from the British Parliament: the Speaker’s chair for the House of Representatives, which was modelled on the Speaker’s chair in the House of Commons. The House of Commons burned down during the war after an attack by German bombers and the old chair was lost. When the Commons was rebuilt, the new speaker’s chair was modelled on the chair in the House of Representatives. The Australian chair was constructed partly from oak from the roof of Westminster Hall—more than five centuries old—and oak from Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. There were spirited debates in the Parliament about leaving the chair behind when Parliament moved to the new building. Traditionalists wanted it in the new chamber, but the argument against it going was that it would look out of place in the quite different architecture of the new chamber. This argument carried the day and was undoubtedly correct.

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