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Henry Parkes

In their own words

Henry Parkes
Audio: 2 minutes

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

Australia has now a population of three and a half millions. The American people numbered only between three and four millions when they formed the great Commonwealth of the United States. The numbers are about the same. Surely what the Americans have done by war, Australians can bring about in peace.

Believing, as I do, that it is essential to preserve the security and integrity of these colonies, then the whole of our forces should be amalgamated into one great federal army. Seeing no other means of obtaining these ends, the time is close at hand when we ought to set about creating this great national Government for all Australia.

This brings us to 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 nationwide uniform gauge railway line.

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. I believe, however, that the time has come.

Acknowledgements

Parkes, Henry (1889) Tenterfield Oration, speech at the Tenterfield School of Arts, 24 October 1889

Attribution

Voiced by Tony Llewellyn-Jones

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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