Speech by His Excellency, the Honourable Gordon Samuels AC, Governor of New South Wales, at the launch of the Foundation, NSW Parliament House, 4 June 1999
It is a privilege to have this opportunity of presenting its Deed to the Foundation, of which I have the honour to be Patron. The Foundation is a splendid initiative undertaken by the Parkes family and others who wish to perpetuate certain of the objects which Sir Henry proposed.
There are quite a number of the Parkes family and many, of course, here tonight. We have to remember that Sir Henry had 17 children, so the succession was really never seriously in doubt.
He, as we’ve heard, was a man of immense talent and of considerable flaws. He was a great parliamentarian, a great manipulator of parliamentary procedure and an adroit political tactician and pragmatist. But also he strove to substitute the imperatives of principle for the loyalty of factions, an endeavour, because we could really call it no more than that, which is not wholly without relevance today.
The objects of the Foundation reflect the purposes of Sir Henry’s public life and his major preoccupations. It is said that he really spent his life impersonating the man he wished to be. This charade, however, if that is what it was, required persuasive objects to lend it colour and life. His objectives were uniformly virtuous—education, equality of opportunity and the full and open dissemination of information.
I am sure that the research and scholarship which the Foundation will promote will be of great value to the State and to the nation. Particularly, I hope the Foundation as it develops will seek to inform young people of the processes of government. This afternoon I spoke with a hundred or so Captains of State high schools, and I was delighted that one of them asked a question about the Parkes Foundation. This student had heard it was to be launched today and wished to know what it was about. I did not know then, but I do know now, that this was one of the students from Tenterfield High School who are here tonight. I said that I hoped that, amongst other things, it would be about teaching the rising generations whose responsibilities for civic judgment is imminent, how the processes of government worked. They are going to have some very difficult and delicate decisions to make in the years ahead. They cannot bring proper judgment to bear unless they know of the consequences of their decisions and how they will be put into practice.
So I would wish the Chairman of the Foundation—we are, I think, not to be bothered while Sir Henry’s ectoplasm is about, by questions of gender neutrality—so I can call him the Chairman. I wish the Chairman the very best of luck for the future of the Foundation, and I hope that it will rapidly establish an outstanding reputation in the field of learning about government and parliamentary procedures, and perpetuate with honour the name of Sir Henry Parkes.
Now it is my great pleasure formally to hand over the Deed of Trust.