Federation

Steps involved in the process of federation in Australia


Beginning 1883

A inter-colonial conference was held in Sydney to discuss customs duty's. Some colonies believed in free trade and other believed in protectionism by imposing import tax. This was the first time the idea of a federal council was discussed. In 1883 a convention was held and a bill drafted to constitute the federal council of Australasia.


Federal council 1885

The federal council was formed after Britain passed the act in 1885. Unfortunately the council disintegrated in 1989 because of the absence of NSW, New Zealand and South Australia. These states all reframed from joining the council. Nevertheless, this represented the first kind of inter-colonial discussions.


Parkes and his Tenterfield address 1889

Sir henry parks, the premier of NSW, tried again to initiate the federation in 1889. Parks made a famous speech at Tenterfield were he highlighted the need for a national government. He called on a parliamentary convention to be held were all colonies decided on a federal constitution to outline a framework for federal government.


Constitutional Conventions 1891 & 1897 - 1878

A national Australian convention was held in Sydney in 1891 with Henry Parks as president. At the convention it was decided on the name the Commonwealth of Australia. Due to economic depression, high levels of unemployment and strikes the idea of federation dissipated. A second constitutional convention was formed with elected with delicates. Sir Edmund Barton, succeeded Parks as leader of the campaign after Parks’ death.


Referenda 1898 1899

In 1898 a referendum was held which passed every state except NSW. A second referendum was held in 1899 after it was realised that the support of NSW was essential. This resulted in a yes majority by all participating colonies.


British approval 1900

British legislation needed to be passed for Australian federation to be established. The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution act 1900 was passed with full royal ascent. Queen Victoria proclaimed Australia and declared the act would take affect on the first of 1st January 1901. The Earl Hopetown was appointed as Australia's first Governor General.


The Commonwealth of Australia: 1901

From January 1901 all the states became part of Australia. The first federal election was held in March and Barton was elected as prime minister. The Federal parliament was opened in Melbourne until the new capital territory of Australia could be established in Canberra.