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How and why did Federation (in Australia) occur?

Uploaded by schmick on May 06, 2002

Federation was the coming together in 1901 of the six separate Australian colonies to form what is now the Commonwealth of Australia. It occurred for many reasons including: to unite the defence of Australia; to make uniform bank laws; taxes and tariffs resulting in better trade and communication between states; and to put the “White Australia” into practise. Federation came about with the aid of many political leaders, federation lobby groups, many drafts of the constitution and the people of Australia, through a series of conventions held in different colonies.

One of the key reasons for Federation was to unite Australia’s defence. Each individual state’s defence force was not strong enough to protect Australia’s vast coastline from attack. It therefore made good sense to unite the defence under one command.

As well as aiding in Australia’s defence, Federation would make uniform the different bank laws, taxes and tariffs, making it easier to trade, travel and communicate between states. It would also change railway-track sizes so they were identical everywhere, allowing people to stay on the same train instead of changing at each states border. In addition, Federation would also improve Australia’s economy by forming better trade laws, such as free trade between states.

Furthermore, many people believed a Federated Australia would help to make a “White Australia” possible, by toughening immigration laws. Some colonies were opposed to this policy as they used foreign labour, which was often much cheaper than local labour. An example of this is Queensland, which employed Kanakas (people from the Cook Islands). Under the new constitution, not only the Kanakas, but also the much-feared Chinese, who came to Australia during the gold rush, would not be allowed into Australia. Thus Federation would eliminate unwanted foreigners, providing more employment for Australians.

The first recorded suggestion that Australia should become a Federation was in 1846. Seventeen years later, in 1863, the first of 83 Intercolonial conferences was held in Melbourne. These conferences consisted of elected delegates from each colony coming together to discuss various issues concerning Federation. They were to be the biggest contributing factor to Australia becoming a Federation.

Federation Lobby groups also supported the idea of Federation. In 1871, one of the most significant Federation groups “The Australian Native’s Association” was formed. It was made up of white, Australian-born men. It later changed its name to “The Australasian Federation League”. It can be seen that these groups...

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Uploaded by:   schmick

Date:   05/06/2002

Category:   History

Length:   3 pages (747 words)

Views:   2106

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