1897 Constitutional Convention – INITIAL PLANNING NOTES – August 2001

1897 Constitutional  Convention Delegates- Role Play

to Celebrate Federation – 2001.



A  Parliamentary Fellowship, in my role as a teacher of Government, was awarded by the Parliamentary Education Office to me in September 2000.

I was then obliged to produce something to celebrate Federation in 1901.  I chose to read, in the January 2001 school holidays ,all of the 1897 Constitutional Convention, and then decided on  the suitable areas to script. The second half of the programme was to be devoted to “the leading ladies of Kogarah at the turn of the century.”

The Parliamentary Education  Office is located in  Parliament House, Canberra. My mentor in this Project is Geoff Clarke of the P.E.O. Geoff and I will liaise frequently over the next  few months ,and he will be in attendance on the evening of this role play.


No  funding was made with this Fellowship.I will make a submission to Kogarah Council for some assistance ;I will need to seek  local sponsorship in addition to this.

Suggested time frame:

I am  aware that   the   School of Arts   building is very cold in the winter. Alater date-August or  September 2001?This must fit in with the  recess from the Federal Parliament to accommodate Robert McClelland – alias, Edmund Barton.

Federal Parliament-Recess Dates.

These dates need to be checked with  Mr R . McClelland’s office.

June 18-28 2001………  Friday June 22?

August 6-9 2001………. Friday August 10 ?

August 20-30 2001…….. Friday  August 24?

or August 31 2001

September 17- 27 2001…….  Friday September 21?

or Friday September 28 ?

October 15-25…………  Friday October 19 ?

Preferred Date/s:August 24/31/September 21/282001

If Council agrees to the use of the School of Arts Building,its availability needs to be checked.


In the most prestigious Victorian building in Kogarah-

Kogarah School of Arts , Bowns Road, Kogarah, Sydney.

I  believe  that we  should  be able to set the scene and  have the correct Victorian atmosphere. The School of Arts in Kogarah provides this atmosphere.

Method of Choosing the 15 Delegates:

The names below are not  in alphabetical order. I have chosen 15 delegates  from the  Australian States to the March 1897  Convention. Their names  appear at the end of this list  of Kogarah identities.

The list of 1897 Constitutional Delegates, along with their biographical details ,will be offered to the following  local identities to choose their part. These biographical details are quite extensive ( 28 pages ) and provide insights into Delegate’s political skills, as well as their personalities.

Note:Edmund Barton will be played by Robert McClelland and Charles Kingston by Sam Witheridge.  Both the Federal Member for Barton and the Mayor of Kogarah  have  agreed  on these roles.


The  Kogarah Delegates will need to provide their own Victorian costume for the honour of playing the role. They will  understand that this is both a fun exercise, as well as an opportunity to celebrate Federation in our Kogarah Council area.


The evening  will hopefully be able to generate some fund -raising  for St George Hospital.

The evening will be open to our local community and others who wish to attend. Tickets will need to be sold for the event.

Content of Debate:

I will be scripting the debate from some of the March 1897 Convention for the Delegates to use. I have all the debates for March 1897.This comes  to   hundreds of pages.

Catherine Spence and Rose Scott, who will also play a role, is currently being researched by me. Others will be included.

A playwright friend is to assist me in the Project, along with one of my Year 12 Students. She was awarded a Youth  Federation Award , and   wants  to help me.

The 15  Delegates will  therefore  read from  our prepared  script.

Suggested Male Players of the 15 Delegates- not in any order.

1)   Robert  McClelland -MP, Member for Barton- agreed.

2)   Sam Witheridge- Mayor of Kogarah- agreed.

3)Fred Cavanaugh -former Mayor of Kogarah and Alderman.

4)Jeff Powys -(Kogarah Bay Progress Association or representative ).

5)Gary Sawyer -General Manager ,Kogarah Council.

6) Steve Clements -staff member,Director of Development and Health,  Kogarah Council.

7)Bill Asliandis -local business person.

8)Alf Abbott – State Emergency Co-ordinator.

9) Peter Doust- St George Leagues Club,CEO ,Football Club.

10)Mr Ed O’Neal -Managing Director of  St George Bank .

11)Shaun Daly- Kogarah Police -Community Policing Officer.

12)David Pearce- CEO St George Hospital.

13Kogarah Historical Society-Jack Lean.

14)Noel Morris- Deputy Principal, St George Girls High School

.15)Dr Terry Notaras- Kogarah  chiropractor.

16)Michael Tynan -Chair of the  Board, Calvary Hospital.

17)Mark Coyne -former captain St George Rugby League.

18) President  Oatley RSL – Tony Taylor.

19) A St George Hospital staff member -contact  Acting Public Relations Officer, Penny Glezellis.

20)Outdoor staff member – Kogarah Council-  Paul Woods or  Craig Wilson.

21)      Paul Nicolau-Chair Ethnic Affairs ,a  former Councillor on

Kogarah Council.

22)      Reverend  Canon Warren Croft – Minister of Religion.

23)Kogarah Rotary Club -President Bill Atkinson or President Elect 2001-2002.

24)Tim Daly – Kogarah solicitor and member of Kogarah Lions Club.

25)Prem Kumar -local GP and member of Kogarah Lions.

26)Ismael Abukerman- local GP and member of Kogarah Lions.

27) Gary Foster- former local solicitor,now at the Bar .

28) Dr Terry O’Connor – Medical Staff, St George Hospital

29)Mr  ????      – History Head Teacher Kogarah High School

30) Mr ???????  -Post Master Kogarah Post Office

Note: A Clerk of the Convention is needed  along with a couple of  Hansard Reporters.

Total male players: 18.


There will be the need to have additional  men,in case of illness or misadventure.

Total female participants :approximately 10 -12.

The Women of 1897 , will be played by current and former Kogarah Councillors , female staff representative/s , and   community representatives.


Possible Female Role Players:

*Leonie Bodell

*Jean Devine

*Fay Samuel

*Anne Field

*Susan Gainsford

*Annie Tang

*Lisa White,Kogarah   Council staff member , has expressed an interest in playing a role.

*Dr Joan Hatton, Kogarah Historical Society

*Jeannette Green of the Lamrock Committee, St George Hospital


*  2 additional  Kogarah Council  female staff members

A local resident ,whose grandmother was a Suffragette in Scotland,has expressed an interest.

A Federation Committee

A  small Committee needs to be formed to work out organisational details.A programme must be produced,along with arrangements for entertainment, supper etc.

Some  local  residents may wish to participate in the sale of  the programmes , collection of tickets ,seating of guests etc. The jobs are endless………..

The Process of Selection:

The  Fifteen  1897 Constitutional Delegates I have chosen  for the  role play are listed below.

I have more people on my list than are needed. It will therefore  be a case of  the order  in which I receive return acceptances , as to who plays what role.

I would hope that the male Delegates will indicate the Delegate they wish to play after  carefully examining the Biographical information.I need to still do some work on the female delegates.

Delegates to the  1897 Convention :


Edmund Barton. QC- Robert McClelland has agreed  to play (Barton is his seat)

The Honourable George Reid .MLA ,Premier

The Honourable Joseph Carruthers .MLA – Minister for Lands

(Our distinguished local identity)

The Honourable Richard O’Connor .MLC ,QC

*South Australia

The Honourable Charles Kingston .QC , MP ,Premier – Sam Witheridge has agreed

The Honourable  Frederick  Holder. MP ,Treasurer

The Honourable Sir John Downer .QC, K.C. M.G, MP

Patrick Glynn. BA LLB


The Honourable  Sir Edward Braddon .K.C.M.G. MHA ,



The Honourable Sir George Turner. K.C.M.G,MLA ,Premier

The Honourable Alfred Deakin .MLA

The Isaac Isaacs . MLA, Attorney General

Henry Higgins. MLA

*Western Australia

The Honourable  Sir John Forrest. K.C.M.G,MLA Premier,Colonial Secretary  and Colonial Treasurer

The Honourable Sir James  Steere . Knight ,Speaker Legislative Assembly


Queensland did not attend the  1897 Convention

Draft Format for the Evening :

John Mulcair, of the Leader Newspaper , has been approached to be  the Narrator for the Evening.


 1)The (male )  Narrator will tell the story of  events leading  up to the March 1897 Constitutional Convention.(10- 15 mins)

2)Role Play will take place.1-1/2 hours.(2 hours max)

3)The (male) Narrator will  continue  the story  of post March-April 1897 in the lead up to  Federation on January 1 1901.(10-15 mins)

4)A  ( female ) Narrator , a resident , or a local high school student will tell how Women fared  in the decade leading up to  January 1 1901 .(20 mins approx)

5) Possible musical item/s whilst supper is held.

6)Conclusion of the evening and  thanks.

Pomp and Ceremony

I believe that the  1897 Constitutional Delegates ,and the women  players,should walk from Kogarah Council Chambers to the School of Arts. They must be accompanied by a band. This represents Government of the present ( Kogarah Council Chambers ) and the past (School of Arts).

Period costume will be worn by all participants. Our Senior Textile teacher is very knowledgeable on  period costumes, so advice can be easily  obtained.


Anne Field

Legal Studies/ Commerce/ Geography  Teacher

St George Girls  High School


January 25  2001

Note: The date chosen was August 10 2001.-time 7pm , Kogarah School of Arts.

We had a ball commemorating our past .  The men prided themselves on their Victorian outfits . The ladies had difficulties coping with all of the fabric in their dresses – and in some cases hoops under their dresses. A wonderful night of which I am reminded of when I meet participants today .

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