2021 Oration

‘One people (or is it eight, or nine?) – one (messy) destiny’

Peter Collins AM QC explores the impact of the pandemic on Australia’s federation


5pm, Sunday 24 October 2021
Online event – live from Werrington House

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132 years to the day after Henry Parkes delivered his historic call for Federation in Tenterfield NSW, Peter Collins asks: do his words ‘one people, one destiny’ still resonate?

Parkes’ vision for Federation has taken a beating over the last two years.

COVID has brought out strengths, but also weaknesses, in the collection of colonies – or states – that Henry Parkes helped forge into nationhood.

The reassertion of state differences has never been stronger than during the pandemic. We are back to ‘Queensland for Queenslanders’ and ‘Don’t tell us what to do in the West’ – and it crosses political lines.

This year’s Oration will be given by one who sleeps in the same bedroom Henry Parkes slept in; who served in the same Parliament, 150 years later; and – like Parkes himself – enjoys an interesting and diverse life.

Peter Collins spent 22 years in Macquarie Street, and half that time in Ministerial or leadership roles. Since leaving politics, he has spent 15 years in Industry Super during a period of remarkable growth. And he is the only Minister since WW2 to have seen Active Service after leaving politics, in Iraq 2007.

With his wife Jennine, he has restored Werrington House (1829) where the Parkes family lived from 1860 to 1872 – Sir Henry’s longest residence over many moves.

Last year the NSW Government appointed Peter Collins to head the Powerhouse Museum which, as the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, itself owes much to the vision of Sir Henry Parkes and the 1879 International Exhibition.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience the 2021 Oration from the comfort of your own online portal – as Peter shares his insights live from Werrington House.

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