Page 3068 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013

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Shortly after, in order to strike while the iron was hot, a meeting was held by the radicals on open ground near Circular Quay and attracted an audience of some 10,000 people. And it is reported that earlier speakers were eclipsed by Deniehy’s oratorical power. Although the evening began to fall as Deniehy spoke—and he spoke for hours, by all accounts—the crowd insisted on his continuing, with loud bursts of applause, well into the night. Perhaps not here!

A further opportunity arose to rekindle the republican debate when the Solicitor-General proposed a war tax to assist with expenses in Britain’s foreign war in the Crimean. Deniehy argued there was no reason why we, a remote dependency in a state of transition, should be compelled to bear a share of the expense. His stand against the pressures of jingoism and imperialism, the Deniehy oration argued, had a familiar resonance in Labor campaigns against conscription, the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq.

Propelled by his aim to open up public lands to the working class and be rid of the wealthy squatter monopoly, the bastard branches of the English aristocracy, Deniehy went for a political role in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. He was elected to represent the electorate of Argyle in 1857. It is said that he was the only man to be found whose political opinions coincided with the great body of the electors. He was the first Australian-born politician who found his way into the parliament on his own merits and without the aid of wealth or influence of any kind.

Members of parliament were not paid, and he was eventually reduced to poverty. Further, plagued by ill-health, disillusionment and alcoholism, he died tragically at the age of 37 in Bathurst on 22 October 1865. Little Dan Deniehy, brilliant Dan Deniehy, was slight and slender, standing at only 5 feet 2 inches. Called Australia’s most brilliant son, he fought gallantly for the liberties that we now enjoy. Many columnists followed Deniehy into a demand for democratic representation but fewer followed him into republicanism.

However, Deniehy, among others, believed that the day of final separation from Britain:

… cannot be far distant—when we must bid adieu … the relationship between ourselves and the ‘Old House at Home’ will be one of kind sympathies and mutual goodwill.

We are not there yet. Today, I and many other Australians still believe we must revisit our relationship with Britain.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 6.49 pm.

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