2021 Oration

‘One people, one destiny’ – or is it now eight or nine?

Reflections on the life of Henry Parkes, and Australia’s Federation in the time of COVID-19

Peter Collins AM QC


Sunday 24 October 2021

On 24 October 2021, 132 years to the day after Henry Parkes delivered his historic call for Federation in Tenterfield NSW, Peter Collins asked: do his words ‘one people, one destiny’ still resonate?

The 2021 Oration was given by one who sleeps in the same bedroom where Henry Parkes slept; 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.

In 2020 Peter was appointed by the NSW Government 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 Sydney International Exhibition.

Delivered online from Werrington House, Sydney

The Parkes family lived at Werrington House, built in 1829, from 1860 to 1872 – Sir Henry’s longest residence over many moves. Peter and his wife Jennine bought the house in 2011 and have meticulously restored it over the last decade.

Werrington old