Australia started off with six British colonies.
At first each colony payed no attention to each other and minded their own business but in 1872 a telegraph linked all the colonies and the idea of being ‘Australian’ was celebrated with songs and poems and by the 1890’s the idea of federation was becoming very popular.
People began to understand that for issues like the economy and controlling immigration a country would be stronger than individual colonies.
So Henry Parkes who was the Premier of New South Wales, persuaded the other premiers of the colonies to discuss federation and in the 1890, the Australasian Federal Convention along with representatives from New Zealand, was held in Melbourne, Victoria. Then the National Australasian Convention was held in Sydney, New South Wales in 1891.
Work began on the Australian Constitution and a draft was drawn up by a committee. They explored the constitutions of other nations around the globe to guide them on the way.
Disaster across the country drew people’s attention away from federation for a considerable amount of time but in 1893, there was a conference of pro-federation groups.
They agreed that a national meeting would be held to redraft the constitution and that all the citizens should have a chance to acknowledge the constitution by a vote.
The National Australasian Convention met in 1897 and in 1898. Amongst each colony they chose a representative to attend the meeting except for Queensland which didn’t want to support federation. Committees discussed every paragraph of the first version of the constitution, adjustments were made and brand new constitution was drafted by Edmund Barton, John Downer and Richard O’Connor.
The smaller colonies were anxious that the bigger ones would have more of a say in federal parliament, so the representatives in the meeting looked at the constitution of America and used that to advice them in the making of Australia’s constitution.
A special type of election called a referendum was held so that the community of the colonies could agree on the constitution.
Western Australia and Queensland didn’t participate and in New South Wales most people disagreed. So in 1899, the premiers met to find ways of meeting the concerns of those three colonies.
While all this commotion was going on, there was a decision that Australia would establish a national capital between Sydney and Melbourne, both of whom wanted to be the country’s capital city.
The Australian constitution was changed and was elected again. Every colony voted except for Western Australia who’s colony believed that federation wasn’t the best thing for them.
The main laws in Australia was originally created by the British Parliament which meant they had to make a new law to allow federation to be in Australia. So in May, the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 was passed by the British Parliament to be signed by Queen Victoria. On the 9th of July 1900, the law was made.
The law stated that on the 1st of January the following year, the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia Queensland and Tasmania would link together to become the ‘Commonwealth of Australia’.
During this time there was a gold rush in Western Australia. People from other colonies rushed there to seek their treasure. This socialising with other people made Western Australia have second thoughts about joining federation so in August 1900, there was a referendum and the people of W.A voted to become part of the commonwealth.
All the colonies were now known as states and a Federal Parliament was built according to the law. On the first of January 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was announced in Sydney Centennial Park by Lord Hopetoun who was the first governor general and Edmund Barton became the first Prime Minister of Australia.