Federation of Australia

Federation of Australia

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The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 self-governing colonies
Self-governing colony
A self-governing colony is a colony with an elected legislature, in which politicians are able to make most decisions without reference to the colonial power with formal or nominal control of the colony...

 of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

, Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

, Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

 and Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 formed one nation. They kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies but also would have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia
Constitution of Australia
The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the Australian Commonwealth Government operates. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia...

 came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

 of the Commonwealth of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

.

The efforts to bring about federation in the mid-19th century were dogged by the lack of popular support for the movement. A number of conventions were held during the 1890s to develop a constitution for the Commonwealth. Sir Henry Parkes
Henry Parkes
Sir Henry Parkes, GCMG was an Australian statesman, the "Father of Federation." As the earliest advocate of a Federal Council of the colonies of Australia, a precursor to the Federation of Australia, he was the most prominent of the Australian Founding Fathers.Parkes was described during his...

, Premier of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, was instrumental in this process. Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation.

Sir Edmund Barton
Edmund Barton
Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG, KC , Australian politician and judge, was the first Prime Minister of Australia and a founding justice of the High Court of Australia....

 was the caretaker Prime Minister of Australia
Prime Minister of Australia
The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia is the highest minister of the Crown, leader of the Cabinet and Head of Her Majesty's Australian Government, holding office on commission from the Governor-General of Australia. The office of Prime Minister is, in practice, the most powerful...

 at the inaugural Federal election in 1901, at which he retained his office.

This period has lent its name to an architectural style prevalent in Australia at that time, known as Federation architecture
Federation architecture
Federation architecture refers to the architectural style in Australia, which was prevalent from around 1890 to 1920. The period refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia...

, or Federation style.

Federal Council


A serious movement for Federation of the colonies arose in the late 1880s, a time when there was increasing nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 amongst Australians, the great majority of whom were native born. The idea of being "Australian" began to be celebrated in songs and poems. This was fostered by improvements in transport and communications, such as the establishment of a telegraph system between the colonies in 1872. The Australian colonies were also influenced by other federations which had emerged around the world, notably in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

.

Sir Henry Parkes
Henry Parkes
Sir Henry Parkes, GCMG was an Australian statesman, the "Father of Federation." As the earliest advocate of a Federal Council of the colonies of Australia, a precursor to the Federation of Australia, he was the most prominent of the Australian Founding Fathers.Parkes was described during his...

, then the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, first proposed a Federal Council body in 1867. After it was rejected by the Secretary of the State for the Colonies, the Duke of Buckingham, Parkes brought up the issue again at a conference in 1880, this time as the Premier of New South Wales
Premiers of New South Wales
The Premier of New South Wales is the head of government in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The Government of New South Wales follows the Westminster system, with a Parliament of New South Wales acting as the legislature...

. At the conference, representatives from Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia considered a number of issues including federation, communication, Chinese immigration, vine diseases and uniform tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

 rates. The Federation had the potential to ensure that throughout the continent, trade, and interstate commerce would be unaffected by protectionism
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 and measurement and transport would be standardized.

The final and successful push for the Federal Council came at a conference in 1883, called to debate the strategies needed to counter the activities of the German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and French
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 in New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 and in New Hebrides
New Hebrides
New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu. The New Hebrides were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century shortly after Captain James Cook visited the islands...

. Samuel Griffith
Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Walker Griffith GCMG QC, was an Australian politician, Premier of Queensland, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a principal author of the Constitution of Australia.-Early life:...

, the Premier of Queensland
Premiers of Queensland
Before the 1890s, there was no developed party system in Queensland. Political affiliation labels before that time indicate a general tendency only. Before the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, political parties were more akin to parliamentary factions, and were fluid, informal and...

, drafted a bill to constitute the Federal Council. The conference successfully petitioned the Imperial Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 to enact the bill as the Federal Council of Australasia Act 1885.

As a result, a Federal Council of Australasia
Federal Council of Australasia
The Federal Council of Australasia was a forerunner to the current Commonwealth of Australia, though its structure and members were different. It consisted of the then British colonies of New Zealand, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Fiji, and others. However, the largest colony in the region,...

 was formed, to represent the affairs of the colonies in their relations with the South Pacific
Australasia
Australasia is a region of Oceania comprising Australia, New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. The term was coined by Charles de Brosses in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes...

 islands. New South Wales and New Zealand did not join. The self-governing colonies of Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria, as well as the Crown Colonies
Crown colony
A Crown colony, also known in the 17th century as royal colony, was a type of colonial administration of the English and later British Empire....

 of Western Australia and Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, became involved. South Australia was briefly a member between 1888 and 1890. The Federal Council had powers to legislate directly upon certain matters, such as in relation to extradition
Extradition
Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal to another nation or state. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties...

, regulation of fisheries, and so on, but it did not have a permanent secretariat, executive powers, or any revenue of its own. Furthermore, the absence of the powerful colony of New South Wales weakened its representative value.

Nevertheless, it was the first major form of intercolonial cooperation. It provided an opportunity for Federalist
Federalist
The term federalist describes several political beliefs around the world. Also, it may refer to the concept of federalism or the type of government called a federation...

s from around the country to meet and exchange ideas. The means by which the Council was established endorsed the continuing role that the Imperial Parliament would have in the development of Australia's constitutional structure. In terms of the Federal Council of Australia Act, the Australian drafters established a number of powers dealing with their "common interest" which would later be replicated in the Australian Constitution, especially section 51
Section 51 of the Australian Constitution
Section 51 of the Constitution of Australia grants legislative powers to the Australian Parliament only when subject to the constitution. When the six Australian colonies joined together in Federation in 1901, they became the original States and ceded some of their powers to the new Commonwealth...

.

Opposition


The individual colonies were somewhat wary of Federation. Smaller colonies in particular were wary of delegating power to a national government which they feared would be dominated by the more populous New South Wales and Victoria. Queensland feared the advent of national legislation (see White Australia Policy
White Australia policy
The White Australia policy comprises various historical policies that intentionally restricted "non-white" immigration to Australia. From origins at Federation in 1901, the polices were progressively dismantled between 1949-1973....

), which would restrict the importation of kanakas
Kanakas
Kanaka was the term for a worker from various Pacific Islands employed in British colonies, such as British Columbia , Fiji and Queensland in the 19th and early 20th centuries...

 labourers and jeopardise its sugar cane industry.

Smaller colonies also worried about the abolition of tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s, which would deprive them of a large proportion of their revenue, and leave their commerce at the mercy of the larger states. New South Wales wanted to be satisfied that the federation's tariff policy would not be protectionist. Victorian Premier James Service
James Service
James Service , Australian colonial politician, was the 12th Premier of Victoria, Australia.-Biography:Service was born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland, and as a young man worked in a Glasgow tea importing business, Thomas Corbett and Company...

 described fiscal union
Fiscal union
Fiscal union is the integration of the fiscal policy of nations or states. Under fiscal union decisions about the collection and expenditure of taxes are taken by common institutions, shared by the participating governments...

 as "the lion in the way" of federation. A further fundamental issue was how to distribute the excess customs duties from the central government to the states. For the larger colonies there was the possibility that they could be required to subsidise the struggling economies of Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Furthermore, there was debate about the form of government that a federation would take. Experience of other federations was less than inspiring. In particular, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 had experienced the traumatic American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

The nascent Australian labour movement
Australian labour movement
The Australian labour movement has its origins in the early 19th century and includes both trade unions and political activity. At its broadest, the movement can be defined as encompassing the industrial wing, the unions in Australia, and the political wing, the Australian Labor Party and minor...

 was mixed in its support for federation. On the one hand, nationalist sentiment was strong within the labour movement and there was much support for the idea of White Australia. On the other hand labour representatives feared that federation would distract attention from the need of social
Reform movement
A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes...

 and industrial
Labor relations
Industrial relations is a multidisciplinary field that studies the employment relationship. Industrial relations is increasingly being called employment relations because of the importance of non-industrial employment relationships. Many outsiders also equate industrial relations to labour relations...

 reform, and further entrench the power of the conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 forces. The federal conventions included no representatives of organised labour. The proposed federal constitution was criticised by labour representatives as being too conservative. They wanted to see a federal government with more power to legislate on issues such as wages and prices. They also regarded the proposed Senate as much too powerful, potentially a reactive chamber that would block attempts at social and political reform, much as the colonial upper houses were at that time.

Early constitutional conventions


In the early 1890s two meetings established the need for federation and set the framework for this to occur. An informal meeting attended by official representatives from the Australasian colonies was held in 1890. This led to the first National Australasian Convention
Constitutional Convention (Australia)
In Australian history, the term Constitutional Convention refers to four distinct gatherings.-1891 convention:The 1891 Constitutional Convention was held in Sydney in March 1891 to consider a draft Constitution for the proposed federation of the British colonies in Australia and New Zealand. There...

, meeting in Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 in 1891. New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 was represented at both the conference and the Convention, although its delegates expressed that it would be unlikely to join the Federation at its foundation, but it would likely be interested in doing so at a later date.

The Conference of 1890


The Conference of 1890 was organised at the instigation of Sir Henry Parkes
Henry Parkes
Sir Henry Parkes, GCMG was an Australian statesman, the "Father of Federation." As the earliest advocate of a Federal Council of the colonies of Australia, a precursor to the Federation of Australia, he was the most prominent of the Australian Founding Fathers.Parkes was described during his...

. The account of the calling of the 1890 conference usually begins with Lord Carrington
Robert Wynn Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire
Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire KG, GCMG, PC, DL, JP , known as the Lord Carrington from 1868 to 1895 and as the Earl Carrington from 1895 to 1912, was a British Liberal politician and aristocrat.-Background and education:Born at Whitehall, London, Lincolnshire was the...

, the Governor of New South Wales, goading the ageing Henry Parkes at a luncheon on 15 June 1889. Parkes reportedly boasted that he "could confederate these colonies in twelve months". Carrington retorted, "Then why don't you do it? It would be a glorious finish to your life." Parkes the next day wrote to the Premier of Victoria, Duncan Gillies
Duncan Gillies
Duncan Gillies , Australian colonial politician, was the 14th Premier of Victoria.Gillies was born at Overnewton near Glasgow, Scotland, where his father had a market garden. He was sent to the high school until he was about 14, when he entered an office in Glasgow...

, offering to advance the cause of Federation. Gillies's response was predictably cool given the reluctance of Parkes to bring New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 into the Federal Council. In October Parkes travelled north to Brisbane and met with Sir Samuel Griffith
Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Walker Griffith GCMG QC, was an Australian politician, Premier of Queensland, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a principal author of the Constitution of Australia.-Early life:...

 and Sir Thomas McIlwraith
Thomas McIlwraith
Sir Thomas McIlwraith KCMG was for many years the dominant figure of colonial politics in Queensland. He was Premier of Queensland from 1877 to 1883, again in 1888, and for a third time in 1893...

. On the return journey, he stopped just south of the colonial border and delivered the historic Tenterfield Oration
Tenterfield Oration
The Tenterfield Oration was a speech given by Sir Henry Parkes at the Tenterfield School of Arts, New South Wales, Australia on 24 October 1889 asking for the Federation of the six Australian colonies, which were at the time self-governed but under the distant central authority of the British...

 on 24 October 1889, stating that the time had come for the colonies to consider Australian federation.

Through the latter part of 1889 the premiers and governors corresponded and agreed for an informal meeting to be called. The membership was: New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes (Premier) and William McMillan
William McMillan (Australian politician)
Sir William McMillan KCMG was an Australian politician and businessman. Alfred Deakin said he was a "thoughtful, educated businessman, narrow and cold after the manner of the Manchester School … business-like in manner and incisive in debate".McMillan was born in Derry, Ireland and...

 (Colonial Treasurer); Victoria, Duncan Gillies (Premier) and Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin , Australian politician, was a leader of the movement for Australian federation and later the second Prime Minister of Australia. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony of Victoria, including the...

 (Chief Secretary); Queensland, Sir Samuel Griffith
Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Walker Griffith GCMG QC, was an Australian politician, Premier of Queensland, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a principal author of the Constitution of Australia.-Early life:...

 (Leader of the Opposition) and John Murtagh Macrossan
John Murtagh Macrossan
John Murtagh Macrossan was Queensland’s 16th Chief Justice and the third person from the Macrossan family to occupy that position. He was also a distinguished barrister, chancellor and judge...

 (Colonial Secretary); South Australia, Dr. John Cockburn
John Cockburn (Australian politician)
Sir John Alexander Cockburn, KCMG was Premier of South Australia from 27 June 1889 until 18 August 1890.Cockburn was born in Corsbie, Berwickshire, Scotland in 1850. His father was Thomas Cockburn. He was educated at Highgate School, and King's College London, he obtained the degree of M.D....

 (Premier) and Thomas Playford
Thomas Playford II
Thomas Playford served as Premier of South Australia from 11 June 1887 to 26 June 1889 and 8 August 1890 to 20 June 1892, as well as serving as the Australian Federal Minister for Defence from 1905 to 1907....

 (Leader of the Opposition); Tasmania, Andrew Inglis Clark
Andrew Inglis Clark
Andrew Inglis Clark was an Australian barrister, politician, electoral reformer and jurist. He initially qualified engineer, however he re-trained as a barrister in order to effectively fight for social causes which deeply concerned him...

 (Attorney-General) and Stafford Bird (Treasurer); Western Australia, Sir James George Lee Steere (Speaker); New Zealand, Captain William Russell
William Russell (New Zealand)
Sir William Russell was a New Zealand politician from 1870 to 1905. He was a cabinet minister, and was recognised as Leader of the Opposition from 1894 to 1901.-Early life:...

 (Colonial Secretary) and Sir John Hall
John Hall (New Zealand)
Sir John Hall was born in Kingston upon Hull, England, and later became the 12th Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was also Mayor of Christchurch.-Migration to New Zealand:...

.

When the conference met at the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne on 6 February, the delegates were confronted with a scorching summer maximum temperature of 39.7 °C (103.5 °F) in the shade. The Conference debated whether or not the time was ripe to proceed with federation. While some of the delegates agreed it was, the smaller states were not as enthusiastic. Thomas Playford from South Australia indicated the tariff question and lack of popular support as hurdles. Similarly, Sir James Lee Steere from Western Australia and the New Zealand delegates suggested there was lukewarm support for federation in their respective colonies.

A basic question at this early assembly was how to structure the federation within the Westminster
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 tradition of government. The British North America Act
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 , is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system...

(1867), which had confederated the Canadian provinces
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

, provided a model with respect to the relations between the federation and the Crown. There was less enthusiasm, however, for the centralism
Centralization
Centralisation, or centralization , is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group....

 of the Canadian Constitution
Constitution of Canada
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada; the country's constitution is an amalgamation of codified acts and uncodified traditions and conventions. It outlines Canada's system of government, as well as the civil rights of all Canadian citizens and those in Canada...

, especially from the smaller states. Following the conference of 1890, the Canadian federal model was no longer considered appropriate for the Australian situation.

Although the Swiss Federal Constitution
Swiss Federal Constitution
The Federal Constitution of 18 April 1999 is the third and current federal constitution of Switzerland. It establishes the Swiss Confederation as a federal republic of 26 cantons , contains a catalogue of individual and popular rights , delineates the responsibilities of the...

 provided another example, it was inevitable that the delegates should look to the Constitution of the United States as the other major model of a federation within the English-speaking world. It gave just a few powers to the Federal government and left the majority of matters within the legislative competence of the States. It also provided that the Senate should consist of an equal number of members from each State while the Lower House should reflect the national distribution of population. Andrew Inglis Clark, a long-time admirer of American federal institutions, introduced the U.S. Constitution as an example of the protection of States' rights. He presented it as an alternative to the Canadian model, arguing that Canada was "an instance of amalgamation rather than Federation." The introduction by Deakin of James Bryce
James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce
James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce OM, GCVO, PC, FRS, FBA was a British academic, jurist, historian and Liberal politician.-Background and education:...

's The American Commonwealth also had far-reaching influence.

The conference in Melbourne ended with an agreement by the delegates that the time for Federation had arrived.

Clark's draft constitution


Andrew Inglis Clark had given considerable thought towards a suitable constitution for Australia. In May 1890, he travelled to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to conduct an appeal on behalf of the Government of Tasmania
Government of Tasmania
The form of the Government of Tasmania is prescribed in its Constitution, which dates from 1856, although it has been amended many times since then...

 before the Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

. During this trip, he began writing a draft constitution, taking the main provisions of the British North America Act and its supplements up through 1890, the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Council of Australia Act, and various Australian colonial constitutions. Clark returned from London by way of Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts, where he held discussions about his draft with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932...

, and Moncure Conway among others.

Clark's draft introduced the nomenclature and form which was subsequently adopted:
  • The Australian Federation is described as the Commonwealth of Australia
  • There are three separate and equal branches - the Parliament, the Executive, and the Judicature.
  • The Legislature consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate
  • It specified the separation of powers
    Separation of powers in Australia
    The doctrine of separation of powers refers to the separation of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. A strict separation is not maintained in Australia, following the Westminster system and the doctrine of responsible government. Nevertheless, it is clear that it has been heavily...

     and the division of powers
    Federalism in Australia
    On 1 January 1901 the Australian nation emerged as a federation. The model of Australian federalism adheres closely to the original model of the United States of America.- Federal features in the Australian Constitution :...

     between the Federal and State governments.


Upon his return to Hobart in early November 1890, with the technical aide of W. O. Wise, the Tasmanian Parliamentary Draftsman, Clark completed the final form of the Draft Constitution and had a number of copies printed. In February 1891, Inglis Clark circulated copies of his draft to Parkes, Barton and probably Playford as well. This draft was always intended to be a private working document, and never has been published.

The importance of the draft Constitution of 1891 was recognised by La Nauze when he declared that "The draft of 1891 is the Constitution of 1900, not its father or grandfather." In fact, 86 Sections (out of a total of 128) of the final Australian Constitution are recognisable in Clark's draft.

The Convention of 1891


The Parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 proposed at the Convention of 1891 was to adopt the nomenclature of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. This proposal provided the broad outline of a Federal government. Its lower house was to be elected by districts drawn up on the basis of their population, while in the Senate there was to be equal representation for each "province". This American model was mixed with the Westminster system
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 by which the Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 and other minister
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

s would be appointed by the representative of the British Crown from among the members of the political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 holding a majority in the lower House.

Sir Samuel Griffith
Samuel Griffith
Sir Samuel Walker Griffith GCMG QC, was an Australian politician, Premier of Queensland, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and a principal author of the Constitution of Australia.-Early life:...

 identified with great clarity at the Sydney Convention perhaps the greatest problem of all: how to structure the relationship between the lower and upper houses within the Federal Parliament. The main division of opinion centred on the contention of Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin , Australian politician, was a leader of the movement for Australian federation and later the second Prime Minister of Australia. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony of Victoria, including the...

, that the lower house must be supreme, as opposed to the views of Edmund Barton
Edmund Barton
Sir Edmund Barton, GCMG, KC , Australian politician and judge, was the first Prime Minister of Australia and a founding justice of the High Court of Australia....

, John Cockburn
John Cockburn (Australian politician)
Sir John Alexander Cockburn, KCMG was Premier of South Australia from 27 June 1889 until 18 August 1890.Cockburn was born in Corsbie, Berwickshire, Scotland in 1850. His father was Thomas Cockburn. He was educated at Highgate School, and King's College London, he obtained the degree of M.D....

 and others, that a strong Senate with co-ordinate powers was essential. Griffith himself recommended that the doctrine of responsible government should be left open, or substantially modified to accord with the Federal structure.

Over the Easter weekend in 1891, Griffith edited Clark's Draft aboard the Queensland Government's steam yacht Lucinda. (Clark was not present. He was ill with influenza in Sydney). Griffith's draft Constitution was submitted to colonial parliaments but it lapsed in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, after which the other colonies were unwilling to proceed.

Later constitutional conventions


The revival of the federal movement stemmed from the growth of federal leagues and nationalist organisations that were committed to federation, like the Australian Natives Association
Australian Natives Association
The Australian Natives' Association , a mutual society was founded in Melbourne, Australia in April 1871. The Association played a leading role in the movement for Australian federation in the last 20 years of the 19th century. In 1900 it had a membership of 17,000, mainly in Victoria.The ANA...

. There were two so-called People's Conventions held in Corowa and Bathurst
Bathurst, New South Wales
-CBD and suburbs:Bathurst's CBD is located on William, George, Howick, Russell, and Durham Streets. The CBD is approximately 25 hectares and surrounds two city blocks. Within this block layout is banking, government services, shopping centres, retail shops, a park* and monuments...

.

In 1893 John Quick
John Quick (politician)
Sir John Quick , Australian politician and author, was the federal Member of Parliament for Bendigo from 1901 to 1913 and a leading delegate to the constitutional conventions of the 1890s.-Early life:...

, who had attended the Corowa convention, drew up a bill which became the basis of discussion at the Adelaide Convention (see below) and is considered to have contributed largely to the eventual constitution. At federation Quick and Robert Garran
Robert Garran
Sir Robert Randolph Garran GCMG KC was an Australian lawyer and public servant, an early leading expert in Australian constitutional law, the first employee of the Government of Australia and the first Solicitor-General of Australia...

 published The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, which is widely regarded as one of the most authoritative works on the Australian Constitution.

In 1895 a proposal was accepted by the premiers of the Australian colonies to establish a new Convention by popular vote, with the resulting draft of the constitution being submitted to the electors of each colony in a referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

. The Convention held meetings over the course of a year, beginning first in Adelaide
Adelaide
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

 in 1897, later meeting in Sydney, and culminating in Melbourne in March 1898. After the Adelaide meeting, the colonial Parliaments took the opportunity to debate the emerging Bill and to suggest changes. The basic principles discussed in 1891 were adopted, with the addition of the principle of responsible government
Responsible government
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy...

. There was also a consensus for more democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in the constitutional structure. It was agreed that the Senate should be chosen by popular vote with the voters in each State acting as one electorate.

A draft bill was drawn up in 1898, and then sent to each colony to be ratified by the electorate. Referendums were held in four of the colonies in June 1898. There were majority votes in all four of them. However, it failed because the "yes" vote total of 80,000 had not been not reached in New South Wales. In June 1899, the referendum was held again in all the colonies except for Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

, where the vote was not held until the following year. The majority vote was "yes" in all the colonies.
referendum NSW
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

Qld
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

SA
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

Tas
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

Vic
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

WA
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

total
1898 yes 71,595 35,800 11,797 100,520 219,712
no 66,228 17,320 2,716 22,099 108,363
1899 yes 107,420 38,488 65,900 13,437 152,653 377,898
no 82,741 30,996 17,953 791 9,805 142,286
1900 yes 44,800 44,800
no 19,691 19,691


The Bill as accepted by the colonies went to Britain for ratification by the British Parliament.

The Federal Constitution






The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) was passed on 5 July 1900 and given Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900. It was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 in Centennial Park
Centennial Park, New South Wales
Centennial Park is a large public, urban park that occupies 220 hectares in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Centennial Park is located 4 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the City of Randwick...

, Sydney. Sir Edmund Barton was sworn in as the interim Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Australia
The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia is the highest minister of the Crown, leader of the Cabinet and Head of Her Majesty's Australian Government, holding office on commission from the Governor-General of Australia. The office of Prime Minister is, in practice, the most powerful...

, leading an interim Federal ministry of nine members.

The new constitution established a bicameral Parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

, containing a Senate
Australian Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the House of Representatives. Senators are popularly elected under a system of proportional representation. Senators are elected for a term that is usually six years; after a double dissolution, however,...

 and a House of Representatives
Australian House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the Parliament of Australia; it is the lower house; the upper house is the Senate. Members of Parliament serve for terms of approximately three years....

. The office of Governor-General
Governor-General of Australia
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the representative in Australia at federal/national level of the Australian monarch . He or she exercises the supreme executive power of the Commonwealth...

 was established as the Queen's representative; initially, this person was considered a representative of the British government. The Constitution also established a High Court
High Court of Australia
The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia. It has both original and appellate jurisdiction, has the power of judicial review over laws passed by the Parliament of Australia and the parliaments of the States, and...

, and divided the powers of government between the states and the new Commonwealth government.

The site of a federal capital was disputed heavily between the two arch-rivals Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 and Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

; the compromise was that a separate territory (the Australian Capital Territory
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory, often abbreviated ACT, is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and is the smallest self-governing internal territory...

) would be established within New South Wales to hold a new capital, while Parliament would sit in Melbourne until the new city was constructed. The site eventually chosen for the city became Canberra
Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

.

Federation is still taught in both primary and secondary schools throughout the country as an important event in Australian history.

Landmarks named for Federation


The significance of Federation for Australia is such that a number of landmarks, natural and man-made, have been named for it. These include:
  • Federation Peak
    Federation Peak
    Federation Peak is a prominent mountain located in the Southwest National Park of Tasmania, Australia. The peak, 90 km from Hobart, was named after the Federation of Australia and is often described as one of the hardest Bushwalking challenges in Australia.-History:The first westerner to...

  • Federation Square
    Federation Square
    Federation Square is a civic centre and cultural precinct in the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia....

  • Federal Highway
    Federal Highway (Australia)
    The Federal Highway is a short highway in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. It is a part of the Sydney-Canberra National Highway link....

  • Federation Trail
    Federation Trail
    The Federation Trail is a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians, which mainly follows the old "Outfall Sewer" through the western suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia....

  • Federation Range
  • Federation Creek

See also

  • Government of Australia
    Government of Australia
    The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

  • Australian Capital Territory
    Australian Capital Territory
    The Australian Capital Territory, often abbreviated ACT, is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and is the smallest self-governing internal territory...

  • Secessionism in Western Australia
    Secessionism in Western Australia
    Secessionism has been a recurring feature of Western Australia's political landscape since shortly after European settlement in 1829. The idea of self governance or secession has often been discussed through local newspaper articles and editorials and on a number of occasions has surfaced as very...

  • History of monarchy in Australia
    History of monarchy in Australia
    Australia is a constitutional monarchy whose Sovereign also serves as Monarch of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and twelve other former dependencies of the United Kingdom, as well as Papua New Guinea, which was formerly a dependency of Australia. They are now all fully independent nations,...


Further reading

  • Hunt, Lyall (editor) (2000)Towards Federation: Why Western Australia joined the Australian Federation in 1901 Nedlands, W.A. Royal Western Australian Historical Society ISBN 0909845034

External links