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Sir William Deane: Centenary Of Federation Speech

This is the text of the speech delivered by the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, at Centennial Park in Sydney for the Centenary of Federation ceremony.

Sir William DeaneThe opening words of the national anthem we have just sung tell us to rejoice.

And so we should. For we have much to celebrate as we recall the coming together, exactly one hundred years ago today, of the six Australian colonies to “be one people”.

We all remember our gratitude and pride in Australia during the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games. We bring that same grateful pride to this celebration of our nation’s 100th birthday.

Grateful pride in the land itself: this matchless continent, its islands, its surrounding seas. For those of us who love this "wide brown land", there is nowhere else on earth that comes even close to its ancient majesty, its mystery, its varied beauty and its sheer wonder.

Grateful pride in the commitment to democracy under the rule of law, which created our nation and which has deepened down the century. We have sealed it by sacrifice in war. We have maintained it tenaciously in peace. Few other nations can look back on a century of democratic rule, unbroken by dictatorship, military coup, civil war or conquest.

And, above all, grateful pride in our Australian people who, as our Constitution makes plain, are our nation. All those who have been and are Australian. And what they were and are: their decency, their generosity, their sense of fair play; their spirit of ANZAC.

And their mutual respect and acceptance which underlie our greatest achievement, namely, the way we are making our diversity, of origin, race, culture and belief, a source of national strength and unity rather than a cause of weakness and division.

So let us rejoice and be grateful for all the achievements of our past and for this day.

At the same time, let us be honest and courageous about the failures and flaws which mar those achievements and which together we can address and overcome.

The damage we have done to the land, its rivers and coasts, notwithstanding our love of its beauty.

The unacceptable gap between the haves and the have-nots, in this the land of the "fair-go" for all.

How far we still have to travel on our journey towards genuine reconciliation between Australia’s indigenous peoples and the nation of which they form such a vital part.

Conscious of all these things, let us re-dedicate Australia to the ideal of unity, under freedom, democracy and the rule of law, which brought our Commonwealth into being, one hundred years ago.

And, in this Centennial Park, on the ancestral land and meeting place of the Eora, Cadagal and Tharawal peoples, let us look to the future, and dream of what it might hold for our nation.

Let us walk together into that future with honesty, vision and determination, with Australian generosity of spirit, and with Australian goodwill and fair play.

Thereby we will truly, in the best and fullest sense, "Advance Australia Fair"

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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