5.30 for 6.00 p.m at History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney
To mark the centenary of the Federal Parliament’s selection of the Yass-Canberra area for the site of Australia’s national capital, a lecture by Professor Geoffrey Sherington (FRAHS)
Political compromise rather than national vision led to the selection of the Canberra area as the site for the national capital. New South Wales had entered federation only on the condition that the capital site would be located within its boundaries; while Victoria had then insisted that the site must not be subject to the influence of Sydney. It took eight years following Federation to resolve these tensions.
The Yass-Canberra area emerged as the capital site not only because it was suitable in terms of environment and topography, but because it also became associated with the growing re-alignment of national politics along new party lines that were no longer inhibited by the provincialism of 19th century colonial politics.
By the time the Griffins arrived in Australia, visions of nation-building and social experimentation were already collapsing under the new politics of social class that had helped to bring Canberra into being. A nation at war had little time for the ideal of a national capital and the opportunity to keep Australia in the world’s eye as an experiment of national and social planning was lost, seemingly forever.
Event organised by the Walter Burley Griffin Society and the Royal Australian Historical Society.
Cost: $7 members and non-members
Bookings: RAHS telephone 02 9247 8001