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Sir Henry Parkes. The Father of Federation?

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The Bulletin, 18 April 1891

In the 1890s Parkes was often depicted as 'The Father of Federation'. What was his contribution to the federal cause?

Parkes convinced his fellow Premiers and politicians to take federation seriously at the Melbourne Conference of 1890. But his legacy to the federal movement was not in the fine detail of the Constitution. Parkes presented a vision of a united Australia and left legal definitions to others.

Parkes, however, did have a lasting effect on the way in which Australians refer to their national government. The draft constitution of 1891 called the new nation 'The Commonwealth of Australia'. The title was suggested by Parkes. Perhaps, for that alone, Parkes deserves to be remembered as the 'Father' of the Commonwealth.

Parkes died in 1896. He did not live to be the first Prime Minister of Australia, a position many thought lay at the heart of his interest in federation.


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.