The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Peter Slipper, announced today that after discussions with the Leader of the House, the Manager of Opposition Business and Independent Members, he proposes the Main Committee chamber is to be renamed as the Federation Chamber of the House of Representatives. A proposal is expected to come before the House in the near future regarding the renaming of the Main Committee.
According to House of Representatives Practice
The Main Committee meets in the largest of the House of Representatives committee rooms on the second floor of Parliament House. This room has been dedicated to its role and is fitted out in a small-scale chamber setting. Like the Chamber of the House the Main Committee has a horseshoe shaped seating configuration. Members do not have fixed seats, but in practice government and opposition Members sit on the right and left of the Chair respectively. There are galleries (at floor level) for advisers, the media and the public. Proceedings are televised on the House monitoring system.
In 2000 the Procedure Committee recommended that the name of the Main Committee be changed to ‘Second Chamber’ and that it be relocated adjacent to the Chamber. In 2004 the committee again pressed for a purpose-built venue, recommending the name ‘Federation Chamber’.
In 2004 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure report, Renaming the Main Committee
, recommended that the Main Committee name be changed to avoid confusion with the main committee room in Parliament House. In addition, the report noted that the name does not fully capture the emphasis and importance of a parallel debating chamber of the House of Representatives.
The Committee also recommended that:
...an alternative name be selected which is not party political and which reflects a significant aspect of Australian culture or parliamentary democracy. The committee favours “The Federation Chamber of the House of Representatives” to be known by the short title of “Federation Chamber”.
The government response to the report, tabled on 9 December 2004, noted the recommendations but:
...considers that the proposed new name would not properly identify the role and function of the Main Committee and may lead to further confusion. Accordingly, the recommendations relating to a name change are not supported.
UPDATED: On 8 February 2012, Mr Albanese moved amendments to the Standing Orders and after some debate they passed. The change to name of the Main Committee to the Federation Chamber comes into effect on 27 February 2012.