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Launch Helen Irving's new book 'The centenary companion to Australian federation' and the 1901 Centre, Cambridge University Press, Monday, 1 November 1999, 6.30 pm: speech.

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Speech by Federal Arts Minister, Peter McGauran 

Cambridge University Press 

Launch Helen Irving's new book The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation and the 1901 Centre

Monday, 1 November 1999 


Thank you Vice-Chancellor.

Special guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here today to launch The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation .

And what an impressive and comprehensive publication it is - it's tremendous to finally have all of this information in one place.

Helen Irving and the Cambridge University Press have pulled together the greatest collection of federation scholarship we are ever going to see within two covers.

The book contains narrative history divided into six separate colonial stories and timetables, as well as an alphabetical series of entries.

Essays from some of the country's most eminent academics are gathered together here in a publication - that not only focuses on the political history of federation, but on the social and cultural processes that took place.

Like Helen's earlier work, To Constitute a Nation , the story of federation comes alive within the pages.

Helen has a real knack in popularising information that many might assume to be rather dry and impenetrable.

This book is easy to dip into.

No matter what you're after, the information is easy to find in whatever form that's most useful to you as a casual reader.

The design and presentation is a credit to Cambridge University Press.

And thanks to a grant from the National Council for the Centenary of Federation, the book is also extremely affordable.

It's a great pleasure to see some of the first fruits of the National Council's History and Education Grants Program start to emerge in the form of books, plays, conferences and television series.

These are all adding to the growing awareness of our Centenary of Federation.

Wherever I go, people are starting to talk about Federation - there is an interest in the history of this country that I have never felt before.

Just 18 months ago, only two out of 10 people had any idea of what federation was all about.

Today, six out of 10 are prepared to have a go at explaining what federation means - and their definitions are pretty close to the mark.

The Centenary is an important anniversary - one to be celebrated in a dignified way.

And it is a unique opportunity for Australians to learn more about their heritage and come together in a unified way to plan for the future.

The timing of this publication is spot on to meet this growing interest and desire for information.

I am grateful to the 1901 Committee and Helen Irving for their dedication to promoting the Centenary of Federation.

As most of you know Helen is not only the editor of this invaluable companion guide, she is also the convenor of the 1901 Committee and Director of the 1901 Centre here at U.T.S.

The 1901 Centre received a grant of $100,000 under the history and education program to improve and stimulate public knowledge of federation history in time for the centenary celebrations.

It has a growing collection of databases and information packages recording federation history, and it draws upon the nationally-recognised experience and knowledge of its staff and associates.

It is proving vital in assisting organisations, the media, other scholars and members of the public to conduct research and to engage in debate about issues relating to the Centenary of Federation.

We have a lot to be proud of in Australia.

The Centenary of Federation is a rare opportunity for us to share the pride we feel in the progress of our country and to stand united as a nation.

Thank you Helen for the enormous contribution you are making to the celebrations.

It is indeed a great pleasure to declare the 1901 Centre officially open and to launch this truly incredible publication.

The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation is not only highly accessible to popular readership, it is the first comprehensive account of the fascinating story of our journey to nationhood.

I'm certain it will become one our most valued historical books - I urge you to savour the experience of reading it.

Thank you.



jy  1999-11-03  09:56