Cabinet Room table
1972–1988 - A table fit for a Cabinet.
From 1972 to 1988, this hefty table was used by the Federal Cabinet.
The original Cabinet table was designed for the building by John Smith Murdoch in 1926. By 1972, it could no longer seat the growing number of Cabinet ministers. The Cabinet Room was also renovated that year, and the old table clashed with the room’s new style.
The new table was soon party to its own historical moments. In 1972, both the smallest and largest federal Cabinets in Australian history sat around the imposing six-metre-square table – the incoming Whitlam government’s two-member Cabinet and then the 27-member strong Whitlam ministry two weeks later.
The third Whitlam Ministry in the Cabinet Room, 1974
Credit: National Archive of Australia A6180, 11/6/74/44
Many important and far-reaching discussions occurred around this table over the next 16 years such as the policy underpinning the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the withdrawal of troops from the Vietnam War.
Like much of the furniture created as part of the 1972 renovation, the Cabinet table was not moved to Australian Parliament House.
See the table in the Cabinet Room.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke with media in the Cabinet Room during one of the final meetings in Parliament House in 1988. The media were generally not permitted in the Cabinet Room but on this occasion were granted brief access. Credit: Photograph by Robert McFarlane Department of the House of Representatives
Prime minister Bob Hawke and his Cabinet celebrate their last meeing at the Cabinet Table in 1988. Included was an elaborate cake fashioned in the shape of the table complete with the names of Ministers inscribed in icing at their positions. National Archives of Australia.