Sir Henry Parkes, the ‘Father of Federation’
Painting by Tom Roberts Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
The Members of the Federal Conference
Dixson Galleries, State Library of NSW
During October of 1889, Sir Henry Parkes, New South Wales Premier, first proposed an Australian Federation to those assembled at Tenterfield in New South Wales, near the border with Queensland. More than ten years had to pass before Parkes’ proposal became reality in January, 1901.
Page 12 of the book introduces the events that led to the eventual Federation of the independent Australian states. The notes issued by the individual state banks reflects the history of that era. A series of Federal Conventions continued during the 1890s, spurred on by Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales. Often referred to as the ‘Father of Federation’, Parkes died in 1896, before his dream became reality. Issues between the states were progressively resolved, in spite of the sentiment that Federation would favour New South Wales. Western Australia, feeling geographically isolated, became the recalcitrant, finally agreeing to join after a transcontinental railway line was promised. In July, 1900, Queen Victoria of Britain gave assent to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, formalizing the Federation of the six state colonies.