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The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British
self-governing colonies In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of t ...
of
Queensland Queensland ( ,) is a state situated in northeastern Australia, and is the States and territories of Australia, second-largest and third-most populous Australian state. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wale ...
,
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper ...
,
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddess of Victory * Victoria, Seychelles ...
,
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
,
South Australia South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest of Australi ...
, and
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a States and territories of Australia, state occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the So ...
agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of
federalism in Australia Federalism was adopted, as a constitutional principle, in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, ...
. The colonies of
Fiji Fiji ( ; fj, Viti, ; hif, फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago ...
and
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands, coveri ...
were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government (and the bicameral legislatures) that they had developed as separate colonies, but they also agreed to have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the
Constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

Constitution of Australia
came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia. 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 Sir Henry Parkes, (27 May 1815 – 27 April 1896) was a colonial Australian politician and longest non-consecutive Premier of New South Wales, Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, the present-day state of New South Wales in the Commonwealt ...
, Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, was instrumental in this process. Sir
Edmund Barton Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, (18 January 18497 January 1920) was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first prime minister of Australia from 1901 to 1903, holding office as the leader of the Protectionist Party. He resigned to bec ...

Edmund Barton
, second only to Parkes in the length of his commitment to the federation cause, was the caretaker
Prime Minister of Australia The prime minister of Australia is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region ...
at the inaugural national election in 1901 in March 1901. The election returned Barton as prime minister, though without a majority. This period has lent its name to an architectural style prevalent in Australia at that time, known as
Federation architecture Federation architecture is the architectural style in Australia that was prevalent from around 1890 to 1915. The name refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Aus ...
, or Federation style.


Early calls for federation

As early as 1842, an anonymous article in the ''South Australian Magazine'' called for a "Union of the Australasian Colonies into a Governor-Generalship". In September 1846, the NSW Colonial Secretary Sir
Edward Deas Thomson Sir Edward Deas Thomson (1 June 1800 – 16 July 1879) was a Scotsman who became an administrator and politician in Australia, and was Chancellor (education)#Australia, chancellor of the University of Sydney. Background and early career Thomso ...
suggested federation in the
New South Wales Legislative Council The New South Wales Legislative Council, often referred to as the upper house, is one of the two chambers of the parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislature, legislative body of government. Generally, a ...
. The
Governor of New South Wales The governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the governor-general of Australia at the national level, the governors of the ...
, Sir Charles Fitzroy, then wrote to the UK Colonial Office suggesting a "superior functionary" with power to review the legislation of all the colonies. In 1847 the
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. History ...
Earl Grey Earl Grey is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1806 for General Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, Charles Grey, 1st Baron Grey. In 1801, he was given the title Baron Grey of Howick in the County of Northumberland, and in ...
drew up a plan for a "General Assembly" of the colonies. The idea was quietly dropped. On 19 August 1857 Deas Thomson moved for a NSW Parliamentary Select Committee on the question of Australian federation. The committee reported in favour of a federal assembly being established, but the government changed in the meantime, and the question was shelved.


Federal Council

A serious movement for Federation of the colonies arose in the late 1880s, a time when there was increasing nationalism 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 Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus is a method of telegraphy, whereas is not. Ancien ...

telegraph
system between the colonies in 1872. The Australian colonies were also influenced by other federations that had emerged around the world, particularly the United States and Canada. Sir
Henry Parkes Sir Henry Parkes, (27 May 1815 – 27 April 1896) was a colonial Australian politician and longest non-consecutive Premier of New South Wales, Premier of the Colony of New South Wales, the present-day state of New South Wales in the Commonwealt ...
, then Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, first proposed a Federal Council body in 1867. After it was rejected by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, the
Duke of Buckingham Duke of Buckingham held with Duke of Chandos, referring to Buckingham, is a title that has been created several times in the peerages of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It ...
, Parkes brought up the issue again in 1880, this time as the
Premier 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, Westminster Parliamentary System, with a Parliament of New South Wales acting a ...
. 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 A tariff is a imposed by a of a country or of a on or of goods. Besides being a source of for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of and policy that taxes foreign products to encourage or safeguard domestic indu ...
rates. The Federation had the potential to ensure that throughout the continent, trade, and
interstate commerce The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated powerThe enumerated powers (also called expressed powers, explicit powers or delegated powers) of the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legisla ...
would be unaffected by
protectionism Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
and measurement and transport would be standardised. The final (and successful) push for a Federal Council came at an Intercolonial Convention in Sydney in November and December 1883. The trigger was the British rejection of Queensland's unilateral annexation of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
and the British Government wish to see a federalised Australasia. The convention was called to debate the strategies needed to counter the activities of the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
and
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...
in New Guinea and in
New Hebrides New Hebrides, officially the New Hebrides Condominium (french: link=no, Condominium des Nouvelles-Hébrides, "Condominium of the New Hebrides") and named for the Hebrides Scottish archipelago, was the colonial name for the island group in ...
. Sir
Samuel Griffith Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, (21 June 1845 – 9 August 1920) was an Australian judge and politician who served as the inaugural Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1903 to 1919. He also served a term as Chief Justice of Queensland and t ...
, the
Premier of Queensland The Premier of Queensland is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or oth ...
, drafted a bill to constitute the Federal Council. The conference successfully petitioned the Imperial Parliament to enact the bill as the '' Federal Council of Australasia Act 1885''. As a result, a
Federal Council of Australasia 300px, Final meeting of the Council in 1899. The Federal Council of Australasia was a forerunner to the current Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprisin ...
was formed, to represent the affairs of the colonies in their relations with the
South Pacific The South Pacific is the Southern Hemisphere portion of the Pacific Ocean, Earth's largest oceanic division, and which includes several islands and archipelagos. It may also refer to: Arts and entertainment * South Pacific (novel), ''South Paci ...

South Pacific
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 Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administ ...
of Western Australia and
Fiji Fiji ( ; fj, Viti, ; hif, फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago ...

Fiji
, 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 is an action wherein one jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
, 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 inter-colonial co-operation. It provided an opportunity for
Federalist The term ''federalist'' describes several political beliefs around the world. It may also refer to the concept of parties, whose members or supporters called themselves ''Federalists''.http://m-w.com/dictionary/federalist. History Europe In E ...

Federalist
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.


Early opposition

The individual colonies, Victoria excepted, were somewhat wary of Federation. Politicians, particularly those from the smaller colonies, disliked the very idea of delegating power to a national government; they feared that any such government would inevitably be dominated by the more populous New South Wales and Victoria. Queensland, for its part, worried that the advent of race-based national legislation would restrict the importing of kanaka labourers, thereby jeopardising its
sugar cane Sugarcane or sugar cane is a species of (often hybrid) tall, Perennial plant, perennial grass (in the genus ''Saccharum'', tribe Andropogoneae) that is used for sugar Sugar industry, production. The plants are 2–6 m (6–20 ft) tall w ...

sugar cane
industry. These were not the only concerns of those resistant to federation. Smaller colonies also worried about the abolition of
tariff A tariff is a imposed by a of a country or of a on or of goods. Besides being a source of for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of and policy that taxes foreign products to encourage or safeguard domestic indu ...
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, traditionally free-trade in its outlook, wanted to be satisfied that the federation's tariff policy would not be protectionist. Victorian Premier
James Service James Service (27 November 1823 – 13 April 1899), Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the ...
described fiscal union 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 (which never became an actuality) that they could be required to subsidise the struggling economies of Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Even without the concerns, 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 had experienced the traumatic
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independenc ...
. The nascent
Australian labour movement The Australian labour movement began in the early 19th century and since the late 19th century has included industrial (Australian unions) and political wings (Australian Labor Party). Trade unions in Australia may be organised (i.e., formed) on ...
was less than wholly committed 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 The White Australia policy is a term encapsulating a set of historical racial policies that aimed to forbid people of non-European ethnic origin, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, from immigration to Australia, immigrating to Australia, s ...
. On the other hand, labour representatives feared that federation would distract attention from the need for
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...
and
industrial Industrial may also refer to: Industry * Industrial archaeology, the study of the history of the industry * Industrial engineering, engineering dealing with the optimization of complex industrial processes or systems * Industrial loan company, a f ...
reform, and further entrench the power of the conservative forces. The federal conventions included no representatives of organised labour. In fact, the proposed federal constitution was criticised by labour representatives as being too conservative. These representatives 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, with the capacity to block attempts at social and political reform, much as the colonial upper houses were quite openly doing at that time. Religious factors played a small but not trivial part in disputes over whether federation was desirable or even possible. As a general rule, pro-federation leaders were Protestants, while Catholics' enthusiasm for federation was much weaker, not least because Parkes had been militantly anti-Catholic for decades (and because the labour movement was disproportionately Catholic in its membership).


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, meeting in Sydney in 1891. New Zealand was represented at both the conference and the Convention, although its delegates indicated that it would be unlikely to join the Federation at its foundation, but it would probably be interested in doing so at a later date.


Conference of 1890

The Conference of 1890 was organised at the instigation of Parkes. The account of the calling of the 1890 conference usually begins with
Lord Carrington Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, Baron Carington of Upton, (6 June 1919 – 9 July 2018), was a British Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional so ...
, the
Governor of New South Wales The governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the state of New South Wales. In an analogous way to the governor-general of Australia at the national level, the governors of the ...
, goading the ageing 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 The Premier of Victoria is the head of Government of Victoria, government in the States and territories of Australia, Australian state of Victoria (Australia), Victoria. The Premier is appointed by the governor of Victoria, and is the leader of th ...
,
Duncan Gillies Duncan Gillies (14 January 1834 – 12 September 1903), was an Australian colonial politician who served as the 14th Premier of Victoria. Gillies was born at Overnewton near Glasgow, Scotland, where his father had a market garden. He was sent to ...

Duncan Gillies
, 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 (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders three other states, Queensland to the north, Victoria (Australia), Victoria to the sou ...
into the Federal Council. In October Parkes travelled north to Brisbane and met with Griffith and Sir
Thomas McIlwraith Sir Thomas McIlwraith (17 May 1835 – 17 July 1900) was for many years the dominant figure of colonial politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power re ...

Thomas McIlwraith
. On the return journey, he stopped just south of the colonial border, and delivered the historic Tenterfield Oration 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, Parkes (Premier) and William McMillan (Colonial Treasurer); Victoria, Duncan Gillies (Premier) and
Alfred Deakin Alfred Deakin (3 August 18567 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia. He was a leader of the movement for Federation of Australia, Federation, which occurred in 1901. During his three ter ...

Alfred Deakin
(Chief Secretary); Queensland, Sir
Samuel Griffith Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, (21 June 1845 – 9 August 1920) was an Australian judge and politician who served as the inaugural Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1903 to 1919. He also served a term as Chief Justice of Queensland and t ...
(Leader of the Opposition) and
John Murtagh Macrossan John Murtagh Macrossan (1832 – 30 March 1891) was an Australian politician of the late 19th century in the parliament of Queensland The Parliament of Queensland is the legislature of Queensland, Australia. As provided under the Constituti ...

John Murtagh Macrossan
(Colonial Secretary); South Australia, Dr.
John Cockburn
John Cockburn
(Premier) and
Thomas Playford
Thomas Playford
(Leader of the Opposition); Tasmania,
Andrew Inglis Clark Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jur ...

Andrew Inglis Clark
(Attorney-General) and
Stafford Bird Bolton Stafford Bird Order of St Michael and St George, CMG (30 January 1840 – 15 December 1924) was an England, English-born Australian Congregationalist clergyman, farmer and politician. Bird was born in Hazlerigg, Northumberland, the son of ...
(Treasurer); Western Australia, Sir James George Lee Steere (Speaker); New Zealand, Captain William Russell (Colonial Secretary) and Sir
John HallJohn Hall may refer to: Academics * John Hall (NYU President) (fl. c. 1890), American academic * John A. Hall (born 1949), sociology professor at McGill University, Montreal * John F. Hall (born 1951), professor of classics at Brigham Young Univers ...
. When the conference met at the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne on 6 February, the delegates were confronted with a scorching summer maximum temperature of 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 little support for federation in their respective colonies. Image:Australian ogre 1900.jpg, left, Political cartoon from 1900 that shows the colonies of
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands, coveri ...
and
Fiji Fiji ( ; fj, Viti, ; hif, फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago ...
rejecting the offer to join the Federation, with Zealandia (personification), Zealandia referencing Australia's Convicts in Australia, origins as a penal colony. A basic question at this early assembly was how to structure the federation within the Westminster system, Westminster tradition of government. The
British North America Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, originally enacted as ''The British North America Act, 1867' ...

British North America Act, 1867
, which had confederated the
Canadian provinces The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of Britis ...
, provided a model with respect to the relations between the federation and the Crown. There was less enthusiasm, however, for the
centralism Centralisation or centralization (see American and British English spelling differences#iseize, spelling differences) is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, framing ...
of the
Canadian Constitution The Constitution of Canada (french: Constitution du Canada) is the supreme law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government and the civil and human rights of those who are citizens of Canada and non-citizens in Canada. Its contents ar ...
, 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 The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (SR 10, german: Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft (BV), french: Constitution fédérale de la Confédération suisse (Cst.), it, Costituzione federale della Confederazi ...
provided another example, it was inevitable that the delegates should look to the
Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...
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 Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jur ...

Andrew Inglis Clark
, a long-time admirer of American federal institutions, introduced the
US Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...
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'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

Image:Andrew Inglis Clark.jpg,
Andrew Inglis Clark Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jur ...

Andrew Inglis Clark
, circa 1907 Andrew Inglis Clark had given considerable thought towards a suitable constitution for Australia. In May 1890, he travelled to London to conduct an appeal on behalf of the Government of Tasmania before the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
. During this trip, he began writing a draft constitution, taking the main provisions of the
British North America Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, originally enacted as ''The British North America Act, 1867' ...

British North America Act, 1867
and its supplements up through 1890, the US Constitution, the Federal Council of Australasia Act, and various Australian colonial constitutions. Clark returned from London by way of
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the and city of the of in the and 21st . The city proper covers with an estimated population of 692,600 in 2019, also making it the most populous city in . It is the seat of (although the c ...

Boston
, Massachusetts, where he held discussions about his draft with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and
Moncure Conway Moncure Daniel Conway (March 17, 1832 – November 15, 1907) was an American abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist minister. At various times Methodist, American Unitarian Association, Unitarian, and a Freethought, Freethinker, the radic ...
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 refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ( ...
and the division of powers between the Federal and State governments. Upon his return to Hobart in early November 1890, with the technical aid 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, 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 was never published.


Convention of 1891

The
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws and overseeing the ...

Parliament
proposed at the Convention of 1891 was to adopt the nomenclature of the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with ...

United States Congress
. 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 The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
by which the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
and other ministers would be appointed by the representative of the
British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspects within the of the s and their subdivisions (such as the , , , or ). Legally ill-defined, the term has different meanings depending on context. It is used to designate the monarch in either a personal capa ...

British Crown
from among the members of the political party holding a majority in the lower House. Griffith 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 (3 August 18567 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia. He was a leader of the movement for Federation of Australia, Federation, which occurred in 1901. During his three ter ...

Alfred Deakin
, that the lower house must be supreme, as opposed to the views of Barton,
John Cockburn
John Cockburn
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, as 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 (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders three other states, Queensland to the north, Victoria (Australia), Victoria to the sou ...
, after which the other colonies were unwilling to proceed.


Griffith or Clark?

The importance of the draft Constitution of 1891 was recognised by John La Nauze when he flatly declared that "The draft of 1891 is the Constitution of 1900, not its father or grandfather." In the twenty-first century, however, a lively debate has sprung up as to whether the principal credit for this draft belongs to Queensland's Sir
Samuel Griffith Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, (21 June 1845 – 9 August 1920) was an Australian judge and politician who served as the inaugural Chief Justice of Australia, in office from 1903 to 1919. He also served a term as Chief Justice of Queensland and t ...
or Tasmania's
Andrew Inglis Clark Andrew Inglis Clark (24 February 1848 – 14 November 1907) was an Australian founding father and co-author of the Australian Constitution; he was also an engineer, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jur ...

Andrew Inglis Clark
. The debate began with the publication of Peter Botsman's ''The Great Constitutional Swindle: A Citizen's Guide to the Australian Constitution'' in 2000, and a biography of ''Andrew Inglis Clark'' by F.M. Neasey and L.J. Neasey published by the University of Tasmania Law Press in 2001. The traditional view attached almost sole responsibility for the 1891 draft to Griffith. Quick and Garran, for instance, state curtly that Griffith "had the chief hand in the actual drafting of the Bill". Given that the authors of this highly respected work were themselves active members of the federal movement, it may be presumed that this view representsif not the complete truththen, at least, the consensus opinion amongst Australia's "founding fathers". In his 1969 entry on "Clark, Andrew Inglis (1848–1907)" for the ''Australian Dictionary of Biography'', Henry Reynolds offers a more nuanced view:
Before the National Australasian Convention in Sydney in 1891 he
lark Larks are passerine A passerine is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (, Latin ''passer'' (“sparrow”) + ''formis'' (“-shaped”)), which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or ...

lark
circulated his own draft constitution bill. This was practically a transcript of relevant provisions from the British North American Act, the United States Constitution and the Federal Council Act, arranged systematically, but it was to be of great use to the drafting committee at the convention. Parkes received it with reservations, suggesting that 'the structure should be evolved bit by bit'. George Higinbotham admitted the 'acknowledged defects & disadvantages' of responsible government, but criticized Clark's plan to separate the executive and the legislature. Clark's draft also differed from the adopted constitution in his proposal for 'a separate federal judiciary', with the new Supreme Court replacing the Privy Council as the highest court of appeal on all questions of law, which would be 'a wholesome innovation upon the American system'. He became a member of the Constitutional Committee and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Although he took little part in the debates he assisted (Sir) Samuel Griffith, (Sir) Edmund Barton and Charles Cameron Kingston in revising Griffith's original draft of the adopted constitution on the Queensland government's steam yacht, ''Lucinda''; though he was too ill to be present when the main work was done, his own draft had been the basis for most of Griffith's text.
Clark's supporters are quick to point out that 86 Sections (out of a total of 128) of the final Australian Constitution are recognisable in Clark's draft, and that "only eight of Inglis Clark’s ninety-six clauses failed to find their way into the final Australian Constitution"; but these are potentially misleading statistics. As Professor John Williams has pointed out:
It is easy to point to the document and dismiss it as a mere ‘cut and paste’ from known provisions. While there is some validity in such observations it does tend to overlook the fact that there are very few variations to be added once the basic structure is agreed. So for instance, there was always going to be parts dealing with the executive, the parliament and the judiciary in any Australian constitution. The fact that Inglis Clark modelled his on the American Constitution is no surprise once that basic decision was made. Issues of the respective legislative powers, the role of the states, the power of amendment and financial questions were the detail of the debate that the framers were about to address in 1891.
As to who was responsible for the actual detailed drafting, as distinct from the broad structure and framework of the 1891 draft, John Williams (for one) is in no doubt:
In terms of style there can be little argument that Inglis Clark’s Constitution is not as crisp or clean as Kingston’s 1891 draft Constitution. This is not so much a reflection on Inglis Clark, but an acknowledgement of the talents of Charles Kingston and Sir Samuel Griffith as drafters. They were direct and economical with words. The same cannot always be said of Inglis Clark.


Later constitutional conventions

The revival of the federal movement stemmed from the growth of federal leagues and nationalist organisations that were committed to federation, such as the
Australian Natives' Association 300px, An Australian Natives' Association banquet held in 1901 to honour Prime Minister of Australia, Prime Minister Edmund Barton, following his return from the United Kingdom. The Australian Natives' Association (ANA) was a mutual society founde ...
. There were two so-called People's Conventions held in
Corowa Corowa is a town in the state of New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria ( ...
and
BathurstBathurst may refer to: People * Bathurst (surname) Places and jurisdictions In Australia * Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia and the following things associated with the city ** Bathurst Region, the local government area for the Bathurst u ...
. In 1893 John Quick, 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. Quick with
Robert Garran Sir Robert Randolph Garran (10 February 1867 – 11 January 1957) was an Australian lawyer who became "Australia's first public servant" – the first federal government employee after the federation of the Australian colonies. He served as th ...

Robert Garran
went on to publish ''The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth'' in 1901, 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 A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...

referendum
. The Convention held meetings over the course of a year, beginning first in
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
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 is a conception of a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, go ...
. There was also a consensus for more democracy 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, the enabling legislation in New South Wales required the support of at least 80,000 voters for passage, and this number was not reached. A meeting of the colonial premiers in early 1899 agreed to a number of amendments to make the constitution more acceptable to New South Wales. Known as the " Braddon Clause", the amendments provided for the return of customs revenue to the states for ten years. It was also agreed that the new federal capital was to be built in New South Wales provided it was at least a hundred miles (160 km) from Sydney. In June 1899, the referendum was held again in all the colonies except for
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
, where the vote was not held until the following year. The majority vote was "yes" in all the colonies.


1898 referendums


1899 and 1900 referendums

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


Federal Constitution

File:Constitution of Australia.jpg, left, The
Constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a written constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it i ...

Constitution of Australia
The ''Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK)'' was passed on 5 July 1900 and given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900. It was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 in Centennial Park, New South Wales, Centennial Park, Sydney. Sir Edmund Barton was sworn in as the interim
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
, leading an interim Federal ministry of nine members. The new constitution established a
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
Parliament, containing a
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
and a
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...

House of Representatives
. The office of Governor-General 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 usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between ...

High Court
, 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 and
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
; the compromise was that a separate territory (the
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
) 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 ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the holding primary status in a , , , , or other , usually as its seat of the government. A capital is typically a that physically encompasses the government's offices an ...

Canberra
.


Landmarks named after Federation

left, The Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne is the site of the first sitting of Federal parliament. Image:Citizens arch panorama.jpg, One of the many arches made to celebrate Federation, the Citizens Arch – National Museum, Canberra The significance of Federation for Australia is such that a number of landmarks, natural and man-made, have been named after it. These include: * Federal Highway (Australia), Federal Highway, between Goulburn, New South Wales, Goulburn, New South Wales and Canberra * Federation Creek, near Croydon, Queensland, Croydon, Queensland * Federation Peak, Tasmania * Federation Range, on the Royston River, about east-northeast of Melbourne, Victoria * Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria * Federation Trail, Melbourne, Victoria * Federation University, Ballarat, Victoria


See also

* Government of Australia * Federalism in Australia *
Australian Capital Territory The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory A federal territory is an area under the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of a federation's central or national ...
* Secessionism in Western Australia * History of monarchy in Australia * Australian nationality law * Australian Bicentenary * Federation Drought


References


Bibliography

* La Nauze, J, ''The Making of the Australian Constitution'' (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1972). * McGrath, F, ''The Framers of the Australian Constitution'' (Brighton-le-Sands: Frank McGrath, 2003). * Neasey, F. M.; Neasey, L. J. ''Andrew Inglis Clark.'' (University of Tasmania Law Press, 2001)


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 *La Nauze, John Andrew (1972) ''The Making of the Australian Constitution'' (Melbourne: Melbourne University) *Humphrey McQueen, McQueen, Humphrey, (1970/2004), ''A New Britannia'', University of Queensland Press, Brisbane. * *John Quick (politician), Quick, John, ''Historical Introduction to The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth'' (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2000) *Alfred Deakin, Deakin, Alfred, 1880-1900 (Legislative Assembly politician
The Federal Story
The Inner History of the Federal Cause, Deakin 175 page eyewitness report. Edited by J. A. La Nauze published by Melbourne University Press. *


External links


Federation and the Constitution
– resource of the National Archives of Australia
Records of the Australasian Federal Conventions of the 1890s



Australian Federation Full Text Database
– primary source material {{Australia topics 1901 in Australia Federalism in Australia, Australia History of Australia (1851–1900), Federation of Australia National unifications, Australia January 1901 events 1901 in politics