Tenterfield Oration

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View of Tenterfield, New South Wales, 1887 StateLibQld 1 236927 View of Tenterfield, New South Wales, 1887.jpg
View of Tenterfield, New South Wales, 1887

The Tenterfield Oration was a speech given by Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of the Colony of New South Wales at the Tenterfield School of Arts in Tenterfield, in rural New South Wales, Australia on 24 October 1889. [1] In the Oration Parkes called for the Federation of the six Australian colonies, which were at the time self-governed but under the distant central authority of the British Colonial Secretary. It is significant because it is allegorically considered to be the start of the federation process in Australia, that led to the foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia 12 years later. [2]

Henry Parkes Australian Statesman and Politician

Sir Henry Parkes, was a colonial Australian politician and longest non-consecutive Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, the present-day state of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia. He has been referred to as the "Father of Federation" due to his early promotion for the federation of the six colonies of Australia, as an early critic of British convict transportation and as a proponent for the expansion of the Australian continental rail network.

Tenterfield School of Arts

The Tenterfield School of Arts is a heritage-listed former school of arts and now museum, theatre, cinema, community centre and library located at Manners Street, Tenterfield in the Tenterfield Shire local government area of New South Wales, Australia. It was built in 1869 by Mr Merrell. It is also known as Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts. The property is owned by the National Trust of Australia, New South Wales branch. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 1 March 2002.

Tenterfield, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Tenterfield is a regional town in New South Wales, Australia. At the 2016 census, Tenterfield had a population of 4,066. Tenterfield's proximity to many regional centres and its position on the route between Sydney and Brisbane led to its development as a centre for the promotion of the federation of the Australian colonies.

Contents

Background

The north of New South Wales suffered from the disunited administration, as it was distant from the state capital of Sydney but closer to commercial areas across the border, in Queensland. Border importation tariffs were imposed by Queensland, and people in neighbouring districts were strongly in favour of free trade.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Sydney Metropolis in Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

The primary reason given by Premier Parkes [3] for federation in the Tenterfield Oration was the united defence of the Australian continent. As stated in 1999 by Bob Carr (premier of NSW 1995-2005) the Tenterfield Oration has similar significance to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in America. [4]

Bob Carr Australian politician; 39th Premier of New South Wales

Robert John Carr is a retired Australian politician who served as Premier of New South Wales from 1995 to 2005, as the leader of the Labor Party. He later entered federal politics as a New South Wales senator, and served as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2013.

Abraham Lincoln 16th president of the United States

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

Gettysburg Address speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln

The Gettysburg Address is a speech that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. It is one of the best-known speeches in American history.

At Tenterfield, Parkes urged the seven colonies to 'unite and create a great national government for all Australia. He explicitly stated the inspiration that the United States should hold for Australians in terms of its gaining any independence from the British. [5] [1] This sentiment struck a chord with colonials. Due to the widespread public reception of this speech in media splashes, [6] and due also to Parkes' subsequent roles in the colony petitioning the Queen and the drafting of the constitution, [7] he is regarded as the "father of federation". [8] The site of the Tenterfield Oration was commemorated by the Commonwealth Governor General in 1946. [9]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Prompted by Parkes' Tenterfield Oration, the colonies agreed to send delegates to Melbourne in 1890 for a Constitutional Conference. That set in motion the process of writing and adopting the Commonwealth Constitution over the course of the 1890s, resulting in the union of the colonies and the establishment of a system of federalism in Australia. [4]

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Federalism was adopted, as a constitutional principle, in Australia on 1 January 1901 – the date upon which the six self-governing Australian Colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia federated, formally constituting the Commonwealth of Australia. It remains a federation of those six "original States" under the Constitution of Australia.

Speech

Sir Henry Parkes Henryparkes.jpg
Sir Henry Parkes

The speech referred to the Parliament of New South Wales and the Parliament of Queensland, and quoted the poem The Dominion by James Brunton Stephens:

Parliament of New South Wales legislative body in the Australian state of New South Wales

The Parliament of New South Wales is a bicameral legislature in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), consisting of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and the New South Wales Legislative Council. Each house is directly elected by the people of New South Wales at elections held approximately every four years. The Parliament derives its authority from the Queen of Australia, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor of New South Wales, who chairs the Executive Council of New South Wales. The parliament shares law making powers with the Australian Federal Parliament. The New South Wales Parliament follows the Westminster parliamentary traditions of dress, Green–Red chamber colours and protocol.

Parliament of Queensland Legislature of Queensland, Australia

The Parliament of Queensland is the legislature of Queensland, Australia. According to the state's constitution, the Parliament consists of the Queen and the Legislative Assembly. It is the only unicameral state parliament in the country. The upper chamber, the Legislative Council, was abolished in 1922. The Legislative Assembly sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Brisbane.

James Brunton Stephens was a Scottish-born Australian poet, author of Convict Once.

I can not find words with which to acknowledge your toast to the Mini and myself, without remembering the time when I stood for a short period in intimate relationships with you, as the Member for Tenterfield. This was one of the passages of my life that is not likely to fade away as I remember how generously you elected me within a few hours of my defeat for East Sydney in 1884. I also remember the generous confidence you showed in refusing to accept my resignation on the occasion of my thirteen month visit to England.


Some colonial statesmen have said that this might be done by means of the Federal Concil. But this Federal Council has no power to do anything of the sort. It is not be an elective body, but merely a body appointed by the governments of the various colonies. Their argument, therefore, is necessarily weak, and under the Imperial Act which appointed it, the Federal Council has no power to set up or control a great Australian Army. The Federal Council has no executive power. It may propose but not execute. I would like to know what would become of an army without a central executive power to guide its movements. One way which has been suggested out of the difficulty is that the Imperial Parliament be asked to pass a measure authorising the troops of the colonies to unite in one federal army. But still, even if this were done, there would be an absence of the necessary executive government. The colonies would object to the armies being under the control of the Imperial Government and none of these colonies could direct it.

The great question which we have to consider is, whether the time has not now arisen for the creation on this Australian continent of an Australian government and an Australian parliament.

To make myself as plain as possible, Australia has now a population of three and a half millions, and the American people numbered only between three and four millions when they formed the great Commonwealth of...…..

This subject brings us face to face with another subject. We have now, from South Australia to Queensland, a stretch of about two thousand miles of railways and if the four colonies could only combine to adopt a uniform gauge, it would be an immense advantage in the movement of troops. These are two great national questions which I wish to lay before you: one great federal army and a nation wide uniform gauge railway line.

I have just returned from Brisbane, and the object of my business has been not to force my advice on the authorities there, but to discuss with them these matters. Unfortunately, owing to the illness of the Head of Ministry, our communications were rather of a private character than otherwise. But without disclosing any confidences, I think that both sides of politics sympathised warmly and closely with the views, which I expressed to them. As to the steps, which should be taken to bring about the foregoing, a conference of authorities has been suggested but we must take a broader and more powerful action on the initiation of this great council. We must appoint a convention of leading men from all the colonies. Delegates should be appointed by the authority of Parliament and fully represent the opinion of the different parliaments of the colonies. This Convention will have to devise the Constitution which will be necessary for bringing into existence a Federal Government with a Federal Parliament for the conduct of this great national undertaking.

The only argument which could be advanced in opposition to the views I have put forward, is that the time has not come and that we must remain isolated colonies, just in the same way as we are now. I believe, however, that the time has come; and that, in the words of Brunton Stephens, the Queensland poet: – I ask:

“Not yet her day! How long? Not yet!
There comes her flush of violet!
And heavenward faces all aflame,
With sanguine imminence of morn,
Wait but the sun’s kiss to proclaim
The day of the Dominion born.”

I believe that the time has come, and if two Governments set an example, the others must soon of necessity follow. There will be an uprising in this fair land of a goodly fabric of free Government, and all great national questions of magnitude affecting the welfare of the colonies will be disposed of by a fully authorised constitutional authority. This means a distinct executive and a distinct parliamentary power for the whole of Australia, and it means a Parliament of two Houses, a House of Commons and a Senate, which will legislate on these great subjects.

The Government and Parliament of New South Wales would be just as effective as now in all local matters, and so would the Parliament of Queensland. All great questions will be dealt with in a broad manner just as the Congress deals with the national affairs of the United States and as the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada deals with similar questions.

The opportunity has arisen for the consideration of this great subject and I believe that the time is at hand... when this thing will be done. Indeed, this great thing will have to be done, and to put it off will only tend to make the difficulties which stand in the way.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 "Henry Parkes Tenterfield Oration 1889". Friends of Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. "Henry Parkes Oration". Federation Story. Federation Square. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  3. "Sir Henry Parkes 1890". Constitution of a Nation. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. 1 2 Carr, Bob (24 October 1999). "Parkes and Federation". The Henry Parkes Foundation. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  5. "Sir Henry Parkes's Tenterfield Oration, 1889". ABC Online. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  6. "SIR HENRY PARKES AT TENTERFIELD". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 25 October 1889. p. 8. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  7. "Draft Constitution 1891". Constitution for a Nation. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. "Federation". Australian Stories. Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. "Tenterfield Speech". Monument Australia. Retrieved 23 October 2018.