Federation of Australia

1st Janurary 1901

Federation means;

A federation is the joining of states to become one nation.

Before Federation;

  • The separate Colonies tended to compete with each other, even travelling between colonies was difficult as customs searched luggage as people crossed borders between colonies.
  • People began to realise that for matters like defence, controlling immigration and economy, a nation would be stronger than individual colonies.
  • A referendum was held so that people in the colonies could vote on the constitution, however, Queensland and Western Australia did not take part, and in New South Wales it did not get approved.
  • The premiers met in 1899 to find ways of meeting the concerns of those three colonies and an amended constitution went to referendum once again in all colonies except Western Australia, and the Bill was passed. The Western Australians did not believe federation was the best thing for the colony.
  • In 1900 a delegation of flve, plus an observer from Western Australia, took the draft constitution to London. In May, the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 was passed by the British Parliament, and was signed by Queen Victoria on 9th July 1900, and so became law. The Act declared that on 1st January 1901, the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania would be united and known as the 'Commonwealth of Australia'.
  • In August 1900 a referendum was held, and the people of Western Australia voted to join the Commonwealth.

When did Australia become a nation?

The nation of Australia was created when six separate colonies became states and were united on the 1st of Janurny 1901 – that is, federated.

Why was Federation a good thing?

By working together the states could become stronger than separate colonies alone. They would pool their resources to look after defence, immigration, local industry and trade. Together they could achieve common safety, common population management – and a commonwealth.
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