On Monday 28 October, Dr Carolyn Holbrook, presented at ‘Alfred Deakin’s Legacy 100 years on.’ This event was an intimate celebration of the life of Alfred Deakin, 100 years after his death.
ABSTRACT- Alfred Deakin and the living, breathing federation
Alfred Deakin is recognised as one of the most significant figures in the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the outstanding politician of its first decade. His ideals were reflected in policies such as defence, tariff protection, welfare and immigration restriction, and in institutions like the public service, the High Court and the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Deakin’s free-thinking nature afforded him a greater degree of prescience about the emerging Commonwealth than many of his contemporaries. He foresaw that the balance of constitutional power would tilt increasingly towards the centre, due to the Commonwealth’s financial dominance. He also understood, more than his peers, that the Constitution was limited by the circumstances of its creation—that it would require regular transfusions of ‘the fresh blood of the living present’ in order to meet the needs of the nation as it ‘lives, grows and expands’. In this talk, I will assess how well we have performed in our role as physicians to our living, breathing federation, and consider what we might learn from revisiting the Deakin legacy.