Sir Henry Parkes Honoured in the Parliamentary Zone

Fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin with the National Library and Commonwealth Bridge in the background.
Fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin with the National Library and Commonwealth Bridge in the background.
Media type
Date of Publication
21 May 2013
Revised Date
23 May 2013

An interpretative panel honouring the man considered to be the father of Australian Federation, Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896), was jointly unveiled today by Mr Ian Thom, Henry Parkes Foundation Chair and National Capital Authority (NCA) Chief Executive, Mr Gary Rake.

The NCA Chief Executive, Mr Gary Rake, highlighted the contribution Parkes made to the nation.

'Sir Henry Parkes was the most prominent of the Australian Founding Fathers, a great believer in the democratic rights of all people and this ran throughout his political career.'

'The suburb of Parkes, which includes the Parliamentary Zone, is named in his honour.'

'Today we unveil an interpretative sign explaining the contribution Sir Henry Parkes made to the development of our nation,' he said.

Parkes was elected to the New South Wales Parliament in 1854 and served five terms as Premier between 1872 and 1891. Within this time he laid the foundation for the constitution of the federated Australia.

He was a self-educated man and persuasive public speaker, as shown by a speech which helped start the federation cause.

Mr Thom said it is fitting Sir Henry Parkes is honoured in the Nation's Capital.

'Parkes was a man who believed in the importance of the parliamentary process. He was a driving force in securing the electoral franchise so that all men could vote in the democratic process. Up until then it was the landed gentry that controlled the voting process.

Many of his social policies for education, health and transport remain in today's society. It is fitting that this panel is near the National Library, for Henry was one of Australia's earliest publishers of poetry. He published five volumes of poetry and several other books during his lifetime. He loved books,' Mr Thom said.

The†Sir Henry Parkes interpretative panel is one of a series of signs installed on National Land in Canberra. Other interpretative panels include Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Magna Carta Place, Federation Mall and John Dunmore Lang Place.

The interpretative panel is located on Parkes Place West, in the Humanities and Science Campus between the National Library of Australia and Questacon. A matching sign is located in Parkes Place East between the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia in the Arts and Civic Campus.† The striking red sign measures 600 mm x 2100 mm.†