Sir Henry Parkes, the ‘Father of Federation’
Painting by Tom Roberts Mitchell Library, State Library of
The Members of the Federal Conference
Dixson Galleries, State Library of NSW
PREQUEL TO AUSTRALIAN
FEDERATION 1851 TO 1900
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.
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.