2009 Oration

Great National Questions and Local Matters: Australia’s Federation Then and Now

The 7th Henry Parkes Oration.  The Hon. John Bannon AO
Saturday 24 October 2009. Tenterfield Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield NSW

The 7th Henry Parkes Oration was delivered in historic Tenterfield by The Hon. John Bannon, prominent academic and former Premier of South Australia, in conjunction with celebrations marking the 120th anniversary of Parkes’ original Tenterfield Address.

In the 1890s Parkes and his colleagues, with the endorsement of the people, brought together six self-governing colonies of very different size, population and wealth into a federal partnership. Respect from the federal authorities for the nature and equality of that partnership has been under threat for the past 100 years, but it remains fundamental to the strength and coherence of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Download the full text as a PDF.

Dr John Bannon is involved in research, writing and lecturing on the history of federation, the Australian Constitution and federal-state relations in Australia. His book Supreme Federalist, a political biography of Sir John Downer, who was a founder of the Commonwealth and a member of the Drafting Committee of the Australasian Federal Convention, was published this year by Wakefield Press.

Other publications include a monograph ,The Crucial Colony, outlining the role of South Australia and Charles Cameron Kingston in particular in reviving Federation in the period from 1893 to 1897 and the chapter on ‘South Australia and Federation’ in the definitive Centenary Companion on Australian Federation, published by Cambridge University Press. He has also contributed chapters to books published by Melbourne University, Federation, UQ and Pluto Presses. He was the co-editor of The New Federalist, the national journal of federation history.

He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide, a Visiting Research Fellow at Flinders University, and for the first half of 2009 took up a residential Fellowship at Edinburgh University. He is President of the History Council of South Australia. Other interests include cricket and he is a member of the Board of Cricket Australia.

He retired as the Master of St Mark’s College at the University of Adelaide at the end of 2007 after an eight-year term of office. Prior to that he was a member of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Board from 1994 to 1999.

Dr Bannon was elected to the SA House of Assembly in 1977, retiring in 1993. During his time in Parliament he served as a Minister in the Dunstan and Corcoran Governments (1978-9) and then as Leader of the Opposition (1979-1982), and was Premier and Treasurer of South Australia from 1982 to 1992. He was National President of the Australian Labor Party from 1988 to 1992.

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