The Mace is the symbol of the authority of the House of Representatives and the Speaker (see Speaker of the House of Representatives).
At the start of each sitting day in the House of Representatives, the Mace is carried into the House by the Serjeant-at-Arms where it is placed on the central table (see Serjeant-at-Arms). The crown of the Mace always points to the government side of the chamber and the Australian Coat of Arms faces up. The Mace sits on the central table as long as the House is officially meeting and the Speaker or a deputy is present.
When not in use, the Mace is kept in a glass cabinet in the Speaker's office.
The Mace was made in London and was designed to resemble the Mace used in the British House of Commons. It is made of silver coated in gold and weighs about eight kilograms. The head bears a royal crown, the Australian Coat of Arms, the royal cipher (a monogram with the Queen's initials) and emblems of the six Australian states. The crown is decorated with etchings of fruit, rams' heads and wheat, to symbolise the importance of Australia's sheep and agricultural industries.
In medieval times, the royal Serjeants-at-Arms carried a mace stamped with the Royal Arms. This was a weapon used to assert the authority of the monarch. By 1415, the House of Commons in the British Parliament had appointed its own Serjeant-at-Arms to serve the members of the House. The tradition of the Mace in the House of Representatives is taken from this practice in the House of Commons.
The Mace used in the House of Representatives was a gift to the Australian Parliament by the House of Commons and King George VI in 1951. The gift marked the Jubilee year (50th anniversary) of Australia's federation.