The Foundation sponsors an annual oration, with a distinguished speaker focusing on challenging social/political issues in Australian society, with some reference to the ideals and objectives of Parkes.

  • On the 130th anniversary of Parkes’ Tenterfield address, Professor AJ Brown  presented the 2019 Oration in Tenterfield on 26 October, speaking on safeguarding our democracy — whistleblower protection after the AFP media raids.
  • The 2018 Oration, in partnership with the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra, saw Professor Megan Davis speak on Indigenous recognition, constitutional change and a future Australian republic.
  • Presenting the 2017 Oration in Tenterfield NSW on Saturday 28 October, former Chief Scientist of Australia Professor Ian Chubb imagines a Commonwealth fit for the twenty-first century: armed with science, guided by principle and led with conviction.
  • Distinguished journalist Karen Middleton presented the 2016 oration, ‘Knowledge or Noise: the problem with political communication’ on Monday 24 October, at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra.
  • The 2015 oration was delivered in Tenterfield NSW by Dr Georgina Willetts, nursing educator and great great granddaughter of Henry Parkes, ‘From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession: the journey of nursing in Australia’.
  • Her Excellency Professor Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Governor of New South Wales, delivered the 2014 oration, ‘The enduring legacy of Henry Parkes’.
  • The 2013 oration was delivered by Ted Mack on 26 October in Tenterfield, on the topic ‘State of the federation’.
  • The 2012 oration ‘Mission Impossible? Achieving social justice through constitutional change’, was delivered by Professor George Williams AO on 24 October in Canberra.
  • The 2011 oration returned to Tenterfield NSW, with Associate Professor Philip Laird of Wollongong University speaking on the the theme ‘Railways in Australia: Federation Unfulfilled.
  • The 2010 oration was delivered by Associate Professor Lyndsay Connors, at the National Library in Canberra, on 29 October 2010. Her theme was ‘Public Education and the Common Wealth: Towards Sustainable Democracy’.
  • The Hon. John Bannon presented the 2009 oration, in Tenterfield NSW on 24 October.
  • The Hon. Linda Burney MP presented the 2008 oration, ‘Weaving the Australian Tapestry’ at the National Library in Canberra on 17 October.
  • Dr Geoff Gallop presented the 2007 oration, ‘Whatever Happened to Australian Radicalism?’ in Tenterfield NSW on 20 October.
  • Associate Professor Helen Irving presented the 2006 oration, ‘The Crimson Thread: What Unites Australians Today?’ in Parkes NSW on 28 October.
  • Senator John Faulkner presented the 2005 oration on 22 October, in Tenterfield NSW, where Parkes gave his celebrated ‘Federation Speech’ on 24 October 1889 – 116 years earlier. Senator Faulkner’s theme was ‘Apathy and Anger: Our Modern Australian Democracy’.
  • The 2004 oration was delivered by the Dr Neal Blewett on 26 October 2004, at the National Library in Canberra, on the theme ‘A presidential republic or a republican president?’
  • The inaugural oration was delivered by the Hon. Gordon Samuels AC CVO QC on 24 October 2001, in the very same hall at Tenterfield, NSW, where Henry Parkes spoke 112 years ago. The theme was Australia in the 21st Century: Living in Peace and Freedom?
  • Participation in celebrations marking Australia’s Centenary of Federation events included a dinner at NSW Parliament House in May 2001, commemorating Parkes 187th birthday as well as the 147th anniversary of his first entry into parliament. The dinner featured an address by the Hon. Susan Ryan AC on Parkes’ commitment and contribution to public education: Priority Public: The supreme legacy of Henry Parkes.