Sir Henry Parkes, GCMG was a colonial Australian politician and longest non-consecutive Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, the present-day state of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia. He has been referred to as the "Father of Federation" due to his early promotion for the federation of the six colonies of Australia, as an early critic of British convict transportation and as a proponent for the expansion of the Australian continental rail network
Parkes delivered his famous Tenterfield Oration in 1889 which led to his instigation of a conference in 1890 and a Constitutional Convention in 1891, the first of a series of meetings that led to the federation of Australia. He died in 1896, five years before this process was completed. He was described during his lifetime by The Times as "the most commanding figure in Australian politics". Alfred Deakin described Sir Henry Parkes as having flaws but nonetheless being "a large-brained self-educated Titan whose natural field was found in Parliament".