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'Federation: the guide to records' and 'One destiny! The federation story', Canberra, Monday 9 February 1998: address on the occasion of the launch.



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ADDRESS BY SIR WILLIAM DEANE

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF

“FEDERATION: THE GUIDE TO RECORDS: AND “ONE DESTINY1

THE FEDERATION STORY”

CANBERRA

MONDAY. 9 FEBRUARY 1998

As we approach the centenary o f the foundation o f our nation, it is particularly important that we Australians should be conscious o f our national achievements - o f the things we should be proud o f and the things we should be thankful for It is true that, like all nations, there are some things which are a cause o f sadness, including some things whose effects we still have to overcome Nonetheless, the story o f our nation is, on balance, a wonderfully positive one with so many things to celebrate Among the most important o f those things is the achievement o f our founders who, through the Conventions o f the 1890s, were responsible for framing the Constitution which the people o f each o f the 6 Australian Colonies adopted as the basic law o f our nation Another o f those achievements is the Federation itself - the process by which the people o f the 6 Australian Colonies established a new nation that came into being, with great excitement and ceremony, on 1 January 1901

The two resources which we are gathered to launch today should do much to impart knowledge about, and to enable a better understanding of, the framing and framers o f that Constitution, the process o f its adoption, and the achievement o f that Federation While the two are related through their shared topic, they are quite different in content and provide a contrast in form One is a book and the other is a CD-ROM

The book, Federation: The Guide to Records, is the brainchild o f the Australian Archives It is a really notable achievement

The Archives sought to identify and list all the existing records relating to Federation to enable researchers, scholars, teachers, students and the media to source the extensive Federation materials held by many different institutions around Australia through a single publication The outcome - the book we are launching - will constitute an invaluable resource for all those planning and researching projects to celebrate the Centenary o f Federation in less than 3 years time In that regard, it is relevant to mention that the National Council for the Centenary o f Federation, the body charged with co-ordinating activities for 2001, plans to promote the Centenary as an opportunity for Australians to remember, among other things, the framers and framing o f our Constitution and the processes and establishment o f our nation

The Australian Archives listed their own extensive collection o f Federation records and engaged Australian Heritage Projects to locate the other institutions holding other Federation materials and to identify and concisely describe those materials

The search and research was conducted on a truly national scale It involved scouring the collections o f other national institutions, State archives and libraries, and the smaller holdings o f regional museums, historical societies and art galleries. So the guide includes not just the official records o f constitutional conventions, but also the personal papers o f

Federation figures and records o f local community celebrations

And it takes a broad view o f Federation Thus, the informative Federation chronology which it includes covers early Federation movements from the 1840s and traces the legacy o f Federation right through the 20lh century It is an extremely handsome and well set out book with well-chosen illustrations The dust jacket, with its reproduction o f Tom

Roberts’ famous painting o f the opening o f the first Federal Parliament - in itself a very important historical record - is o f particular appeal to me since the painting hung in the Great Hall o f the High Court during most o f the time I was on the Court - that is, until it was reclaimed by the Parliament on the opening o f this building

The final result is a volume o f almost 400 pages which will, no doubt, soon reside in the bookshelves o f researchers throughout the country It will be a valuable companion for all who want to understand more about our nation and how it came to be It is truly a triumph o f imaginative planning, hard work and thorough scholarship

The other Federation resource I am privileged to be launching today is a CD-ROM called One Destiny! The Tederation Story Using innovative technology, it is full o f fascinating glimpses o f the past through photographs, paintings, cartoons, music, handwritten documents and film And what I can only describe as most enjoyable games and contests. It would be most inappropriate for me, as Governor-General, to disclose whether or not I was beguiled into trying my hand at designing a new Australian flag through a computer process enabling the selection and imposition o f successive layers o f colours and symbols. I will however reveal that 1 spent a considerable time on the challenge o f identifying a wide range o f the fathers o f Federation from basic clues I must confess that I enjoyed something less than the first clue success which I had over-confidently anticipated

One Destiny1 was produced by three partners Global Vision Productions, Australian Heritage Products and the Australian Archives and is aimed at both young and old The professional researcher will find previously unpublished material," such as the detailed 1899 referendum results, while school children are encouraged to take a ‘ virtual’ trip by road, rail and sea from Adelaide via Melbourne and Sydney to Brisbane I understand it is being distributed by the Curriculum Corporation to every school in Australia

The starting point on the CD-ROM is a graphic illustration o f the pavilion in Sydney’ s Centennial Park, where the nation was proclaimed in 1901

By clicking onto different sides o f the pavilion, both inside and out, you can explore a variety o f aspects o f Federation These include the celebrations on 1 January and then again in May when the First Parliament opened, the position o f Aboriginal people in the new nation, and the way Australians saw themselves as part o f the British Empire but with their own emerging identity. The fascinating debates amongst politicians and the people, and the intricate negotiations o f 100 years ago which led to Federation provide an instructive and

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fascinating context for the present constitutional convention and the discussions taking place in the old Parliament building down the hill

In creating One Destiny! Global Vision has brought modern technology to the study o f Australian history, while Australian Heritage Projects has provided the solid basis o f historical research Drawing upon the rich resources o f Australian libraries and archives, including those o f the Australian Archives, the CD-ROM contains a vast database, propelling images and information from the distant past into our schools and homes It is in effect an interactive museum And all in this one small disk

The political tradition revealed here is one o f democratic ideas and democratic practice It is interesting to note that the leaders and delegates to the various conventions and processes leading up to Federation were well aware that they were in the vanguard o f the development o f government and constitutional matters, in what was then - and still is - one o f the most advanced democratic societies in the world They were actively striving to build a modern nation in which equality, representative government and freedom under the law are accepted norms, not a revolutionary cry

I am sure that Federation: The Guide to Records and One Destiny! w ill each enhance our understanding o f events 100 years ago I commend the Australian Archives, Australian Heritage Projects and Global Vision in producing these vital resources and offer my warmest congratulations and thanks to all who have been involved in their planning and production

And now, with great pleasure, I official launch ” Federation: The Guide to Records' and "One Destiny! The Federation Story" I am sure that it is the fervent wish o f all here present that they enjoy the success which each o f them so richly deserves.