Federation of Australia
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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 with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. This was in contrast to a ...
of
Queensland ) , nickname = Sunshine State , image_map = Queensland in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Queensland in Australia , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , established_ ...
,
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
, Victoria,
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
,
South Australia South Australia (commonly 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 o ...
(which also governed what is now the
Northern Territory The Northern Territory (commonly abbreviated as NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an states and territories of Australia, Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. The Northern Territory ...
), and
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia 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, the Southern Ocean to th ...
agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. The colonies of
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
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 over 700 List of islands of New Zealand, smaller islands. It is the ...
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, constitutional document that is Constitution, supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a Federation of Australia, federation under a constitutio ...
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, 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, prime minister of Australia from 1901 to 1903, holding office as the leader of the Protecti ...
, 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 of the Commonwealth of Australia. The prime minister heads the executive branch of the Australian Government, federal government of Australia and is also accountable to Parliament of A ...
at the inaugural national election 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 Au ...
, 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 of New South Wales, parliament of the Australian state of New South Wales. The other is the New South Wales Legislative ...
. The
Governor of New South Wales The governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, King Charles III, 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 A ...
, 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. Histor ...
Earl Grey 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 of Australasia

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 flag semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas p ...
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, 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 Peerage of England, England, Peerage of Great Britain, Great Britain, and the Peerage of the United Kingdom ...
, 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 ...
. 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 tax imposed by the government of a country or by a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade an ...
rates. The Federation had the potential to ensure that throughout the continent, trade and
interstate commerce The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article One of the United States Constitution#Section 8: Powers of Congress, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that the United States Con ...
would be unaffected by
protectionism Protectionism, sometimes referred to as trade protectionism, is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. ...
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: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, or , historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-largest island with an area of . Located in Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, the island is separated from Mainlan ...
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 and French 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 after the Hebrides, Hebrides Scottish archipelago, was the colonial name for the isla ...
. 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, 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 was formed, to represent the affairs of the colonies in their relations with the 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 of Western Australia and
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
, became involved. South Australia was briefly a member between 1888 and 1890. The Federal Council had powers to legislate directly upon certain matters, and did so to effect the mutual recognition of naturalisations by colonies, to regulate labour standards in the employment of Pacific Island labour in fisheries, and to enable a legal suit to be "served" outside the colony in which it was issued, "a power valuable in matters ranging from absconding debtors to divorce proceedings". But the Council 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''. History Europe federation In Europe, proponents of Fed ...
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 with ...
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 tax imposed by the government of a country or by a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade an ...
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 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 or intrastate war 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 independence for a region, or to change go ...
. 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) o ...
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. On the other hand, labour representatives feared that federation would distract attention from the need for
social Social organisms, including human(s), live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary or not. Etymology The word "social" derives from ...
and industrial 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). For all that, many Irish could feel an attractive affinity between the cause of Home Rule in Ireland – effectively federalizing the United Kingdom – and the federation of the Australian colonies. Federationists such as Edmund Barton, with the full support of his righthand man Richard O'Connor, were careful to maintain good relations with Irish opinion.


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.


Australasian Federal Conference of 1890

The Australasian Federal Conference of 1890 met at the instigation of Parkes. Accounts of its origin commonly commence with Lord Carrington, the
Governor of New South Wales The governor of New South Wales is the viceregal representative of the Australian monarch, King Charles III, 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 A ...
, 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 ...
, 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 ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
into the Federal Council. In October Parkes travelled north to Brisbane and met with Griffith and Sir 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 1856 – 7 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 thr ...
(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 (Colonial Secretary); South Australia, Dr. John Cockburn (Premier) and 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, politician, electoral reformer and jurist. He initially qualified as a ...
(Attorney-General) and Stafford Bird (Treasurer); Western Australia, Sir James George Lee Steere (Speaker); New Zealand, Captain William Russell (Colonial Secretary) and Sir John Hall. 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. A basic question at this early assembly was how to structure the federation within the
Westminster Westminster is an area of Central London, part of the wider City of Westminster. The area, which extends from the River Thames to Oxford Street, has many Tourism in London, visitor attractions and historic landmarks, including the Palace of W ...
tradition of government. The
British North America Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'' (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867),''The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. originally enacted as the ''British North America Act, 186 ...
, which had confederated the Canadian provinces, 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, 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 Confederaz ...
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 of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
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, politician, electoral reformer and jurist. He initially qualified as a ...
, a long-time admirer of American federal institutions, introduced the
US Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven ar ...
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."


Clark's draft constitution

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 The Tasmanian Government is the democratic administrative authority of the States and territories of Australia, state of Tasmania, Australia. The leader of the party or coalition with the Confidence and supply, confidence of the Tasmanian House ...
before the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advice (constitutional), advises the head of state of a State (polity), state, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchy, monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a pr ...
. During this trip, he began writing a draft constitution, taking the main provisions of the
British North America Act, 1867 The ''Constitution Act, 1867'' (french: Loi constitutionnelle de 1867),''The Constitution Act, 1867'', 30 & 31 Victoria (U.K.), c. 3, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw retrieved on 2019-03-14. originally enacted as the ''British North America Act, 186 ...
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 capital city, state capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as the cultural and financ ...
, Massachusetts, where he held discussions about his draft with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., 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 refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
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.


The National Australasian 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 ...
proposed at the Convention of 1891 was to adopt the nomenclature of the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
; a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives 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 by which the
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
and other ministers would be appointed by the representative of the
British Crown The Crown is the state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Ea ...
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 1856 – 7 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 thr ...
, that the lower house must be supreme, as opposed to the views of Barton, 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 ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
, 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, politician, electoral reformer and jurist. He initially qualified as a ...
. 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 birds of the family Alaudidae. Larks have a cosmopolitan distribution with the largest number of species occurring in Africa. Only a single species, the horned lark, occurs in North America, and only Horsfield's bush lark occu ...
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.


Australasian Federal Convention of 1897–98

The apparent enthusiasm of 1891 rapidly ebbed in the face of opposition from Henry Parkes' rival, George Reid, and the sudden advent of the Labor Party in NSW, which commonly dismissed federation as a "fad". The subsequent revival of the federal movement owed much to the growth of federal leagues outside of capital cities, and, in Victoria, the
Australian Natives' Association The Australian Natives' Association (ANA) was a mutual society founded in Melbourne, Australia in April 1871. It was founded by and for the benefit of native-born European Australians, white Australians and membership was restricted exclusively ...
. The Border Federation League of Corowa held a conference in 1893 which was to prove of considerable significance, and a "People's Convention" in Bathurst in 1896 underlined the cautious conversion of George Reid to the federal cause. At the close of the Corowa Conference John Quick had advanced a scheme of a popularly elected convention, tasked to prepare a constitution, which would then be put to a referendum in each colony. Winning the support of George Reid, premier of NSW from 1894, the Quick scheme was approved by all premiers in 1895. (Quick and
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 Government of Australia, federal government employee after the Federation of Australia, feder ...
later published ''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 March 1897 took place the Australasian Federal Convention Elections, and several weeks later the delegates gathered for the Convention's first session in
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the list of Australian capital cities, capital city of South Australia, the state's largest city and the list of cities in Australia by population, fifth-most populous city in Australia. "Adelaide" may refer to either Greater A ...
, later meeting in Sydney, and finally 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 of the 1891 draft constitution were adopted, modified by a consensus for more democracy in the constitutional structure. It was agreed that the Senate should be chosen, directly, by popular vote, rather than appointed by State governments. On other matters there was considerable disagreement. 'Interests' inevitably fractured the unity of delegates in matters involving rivers and railways, producing legalistic compromises. And they had few guides, at a conceptual level, to what they were doing. Deakin greatly praised James Bryce's sage appreciation of American federalism, ''The American Commonwealth''. And Barton cited the analysis of federation of Bryce's Oxford colleagues, E.A. Freeman and A.V. Dicey. But neither of these two writers could be said to be actual advocates of Federation. For delegates less given to reading (or citing) authors, the great model of plural governance would always be the British Empire, which was no federation at all. The Australasian Federal Convention dissolved on 17 March 1898 having adopted a bill "To Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia". . Referendums on the proposed constitution were held in four of the colonies in June 1898. There were majority votes in all four, however, the enabling legislation in New South Wales required the support of at least 80,000 voters for passage, equivalent to about half of enrolled voters, 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. These included the limiting " Braddon Clause", which guaranteed the states 75 percent of customs revenue, to just ten years of operation; requiring that the new federal capital would be located within in New South Wales, but at least a hundred miles (160 km) distant from Sydney; and, in the circumstances of a "double dissolution", reducing from six tenths to one half the requisite majority to legislate of a subsequent joint meeting of Senate and House . In June 1899, referendums on the revised constitution were again held again in all the colonies except for
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia 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, the Southern Ocean to th ...
, 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 (except Western Australia, which voted after the act was passed by the British parliament) went to Britain for legislation by the British Parliament.


Federal Constitution

The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) was passed on 5 July 1900 and given
Royal Assent Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature, either directly or through an official acting on the monarch's behalf. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in other ...
by
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
on 9 July 1900. It was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 in Centennial Park, Sydney. Sir Edmund Barton was sworn in as the interim
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
, leading an interim Federal ministry of nine members. The new constitution established a
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
Parliament, containing a
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
and a
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
. The office of
Governor-General Governor-general (plural ''governors-general''), or governor general (plural ''governors general''), is the title of an office-holder. In the context of governors-general and former British colonies, governors-general are appointed as viceroy t ...
was established as the Queen's representative; initially, this person was considered a representative of the British Government. The Constitution also provided for the establishment of a High Court, and divided the powers of government between the states and the new Commonwealth government. The states retained their own parliaments, along with the majority of existing powers, but the federal government would be responsible of issues defence, immigration, quarantine, customs, banking and coinage, among other powers. .


Landmarks named after Federation

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 Federal Highways and Federal Routes can be found in: *Australia: Federal Highway (Australia), Federal Highway *Brazil: List of highways in Brazil#Federal highways, Brazilian Federal Highway and Brazilian Highway System *Germany: ''Bundesstraßen' ...
, between
Goulburn Goulburn ( ) is a regional city in the Southern Tablelands of the Australian States and territories of Australia, state of New South Wales, approximately south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Canberra. It was proclaimed as Australia's first ...
, New South Wales and Canberra * Federation Creek, near
Croydon Croydon is a large town in South London, south London, England, south of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Croydon, a Districts of England, local government district of Greater London. It is one of the largest commercial districts i ...
, Queensland * Federation Peak, Tasmania * Federation Range, on the Royston River, about east-northeast of Melbourne, Victoria *
Federation Square Federation Square (colloquially Fed Square) is a venue for arts, culture and public events on the edge of the Melbourne central business district. It covers an area of at the intersection of Flinders Street, Melbourne, Flinders and Swanston S ...
, 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 (commonly abbreviated as ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a landlocked federal territory of Australia containing the national capital Canberra and some surrounding township#Aust ...
* Secessionism in Western Australia * History of monarchy in Australia *
Australian nationality law Australian nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds Australian legal nationality. The primary law governing nationality regulations is the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, which came into force on 1 July 2007 and is appli ...
*
Australian Bicentenary The bicentenary of Australia was celebrated in 1988. It marked 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet of British convict ships at Sydney in 1788. History The bicentennial year marked Captain Arthur Phillip's arrival with the 11 ships ...
* Federation Drought


Notes


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

* * * * William Coleman,''Their Fiery Cross of Union. A Retelling of the Creation of the Australian Federation, 1889–1914'', Connor Court, Queensland, 2021. * Hunt, Lyall (editor) (2000)''Towards Federation: Why Western Australia joined the Australian Federation in 1901'' Nedlands, W.A. Royal Western Australian Historical Society * McQueen, Humphrey, (1970/2004), ''A New Britannia'', University of Queensland Press, Brisbane. * * Quick, John, ''Historical Introduction to The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth'' (Sydney: University of Sydney Library, 2000) * 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
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
Federation of Australia The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colony, self-governing colonies of Colony of Queensland, Queensland, Colony of New South Wales, New South Wales, Victoria (Australia)#Colonial Victo ...
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
January 1901 events 1901 in politics