Federation of Australia

by Celeste

What life was like in the 1880s

The 1880s was a harsh time as the way of life wasn't easy. Simple luxuries we enjoy daily weren't always available as they were expensive and the technology was certainly nothing like it is now. Travelling wasn't easy because to get to one side of Australia to the other, you would be crossing into another colony and you would have to go through the procedure of being searched and checked. Plus, the time it takes to travel around Australia was insanely long compared to now. Life for people in the 19th century was transformed due to the industrial revolution happening at the time. At first it seemed to be causing more bad than good but later on in the century life became easier to live and more comfortable.

Reasons For Federation

Before 1901 (the year federation occurred) Australia was not a nation, and instead it was made up of 6 British Colonies that were controlled by the British Parliament that had their own railway system and different tax system. Australia was basically just the name of a continent controlled by the British rather than being it's own country that was self-governing.


Most people living in Australia didn't like the fact we weren't our own country and thought we would benefit from being a self-governing county. One of the main reasons federation occurred was because each colony had their own defence force and in the instance Australia had to defend itself against another army or any opposing threat a larger defence force working together would be much more beneficial than six fighting for their own colony.


Another reason for federation was that people were concerned that Australia might by invaded by non-white foreigners and this really encouraged people to support federation. Although most colonies had rules against who could immigrate, several colonies wanted to increase their rules and keep Australia free of non-whites. Because multiple people have been immigrating to Australia especially when the gold rush occurred as that attracted multiple foreign men and women to travel to Australia (especially the Chinese) people are complaining about the amount of available jobs as the newcomer foreigners are taking multiple of the available jobs.

Key Figures and their role in the lead up to Federation

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Sir. Henry Parkes

Sir. Henry Parkes, born on the 27th of May 1815, in Coventry, England. During Parkes early years in Australia, he took an interest in political issues. He took part in the movement leading towards self-governing for Australia. This was already a major political issue. The New South Wales Legislative Council had been reformed in 1843 to include elected members for the first time. He also became an opponent of the transportation of convicts to Australia and began to support land reform. He voiced his opinion and even protested against a convict transportation ship from being docked in Sydney and in 1853, Britain cancelled almost all transportation of convicts. Parkes believed that Australia would most certainly benefit from being one nation. His important role in the Federations upbringing gave him the nickname the 'Father Of Federation'. Sadly he died on the 27th of April 1896 at the age of 80, missing federation becoming 100% complete and put into use.

Establishing The Australian Constitution

Between 1897 and 1898 the premiers of the six Australian colonies met to produce a draft constitution. Eventually the bill was presented to the British Parliament and passed in 1900. 1 January 1901 Australia had a constitution that established the limits of laws that Federal Parliament is able to create.

Ballot Paper

Ballot papers were sent out for all people over the age of 18 to vote for the Australian Constitution.
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Federation Celebrations

When the Commonwealth of Australia was announced on 1 January 1901, a ceremony was held in Centennial Park in Sydney. Australians celebrated their nationhood, participating in parades, school celebrations and sporting events. Federation had been a phenomenal political achievement. Some celebrated federation by raising a Union Jack, the flag of Britain and its Empire and having the flag stand tall in their school yard for the occasion.