‘Two-hander’ Oration examines Sir Isaac Isaacs’ life and legacy

23 July 2012

THE 2012 Kerferd Oration this Sunday, 29 July, is a bit different in a number of ways.

The major difference is that the Oration this year is a two-hander between former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and Beechworth historian Bill Wilson.

They will speak about  Sir Isaac Isaacs, Australia’s first native-born Governor-General, a man ahead of his time, who was educated in Yackandandah and Beechworth and had a 47-year connection with Indigo Shire.

Sir Isaac Isaacs was, in Mr Fischer’s words, an ‘extraordinary citizen, great purposeful contrarian with enormous curiosity’. He was a leader who ‘backed right against might every time’.

Mr Fischer will expand on the issues that Isaacs grappled with in the 1930s and draw modern-day comparisons.

Dr Wilson, a professional historian, has uncovered new material about Isaacs and his links to Indigo Shire.

A special guest will be Isaacs’ great grandson Tim Cohen of Sydney as well as 50 members of the Kerferd family, some travelling from as far away as Perth.

Kerferd Oration Committee chair Joan Simms says other important differences include the showing of a short DVD on Sir Isaac Isaacs filmed in 2009 by senior Yackandandah Primary School students, a new venue, and a revamped format.

“The DVD by the students is a highly engaging account of Sir Isaac Isaacs’ life, with the students playing all the roles, the new venue is the Baarmutha Park Function Centre in Beechworth, off Balaclava Road and the new format is more relaxed than in the past,” Ms Simms said.

“And for the first time the subject matter is about one of our own – Isaac Isaacs – delivered by two of our own. Isaacs was educated locally and later went on to become the State member for Bogong, and then the first federal member for Indi. His distinguished career included being a judge of the High Court of Australia,” she said.

“On the social side, there will be a mobile coffee stall in operation before the Oration, and a light lunch will be provided by Beechworth Red Cross at 12.30pm.

“This is the tenth Kerferd Oration so we have been working hard to make it a bit different. It is a free community event and the doors open at 10.15am for an 11am start.”


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