British colonies of New South Wales, Tasmania, Western
Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland declared and
established during the eriod 1788 to 18!"

New %ealand anne&ed b' Britain

(re')s federal s'stem roosal
Britain's Colonial Secretary, Earl Grey, proposed a cooperative federal
system for Australia with a federal general assembly responsible for
tariffs and customs duties but abandoned his proposals when they
aroused opposition in the colonies. he federal clauses were struc! out
of the Australian Colonies Government Act 1850, e"cept that it
authorised any two or more colonies to enter into a federal union.

Australian Colonies Government Act (Act for the Better Government
of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies) assed b' British *arliament
his Act gave the #ew South $ales %egislative Council increased
powers and granted representative government to South Australia, &an
'iemen's %and (renamed asmania in )*++, and the -ort -hillip
'istrict, which was separated from #ew South $ales and renamed
&ictoria ()*+.,. -rovision was also made for eventual representative
government in $estern Australia.
Australian +eague created in S'dne' b' ,e-. /ohn 0unmore
+ang, /ames Wiltshire and Sir 1enr' *ar2es
he %eague aimed to abolish transportation of convicts and establish
universal male suffrage and a 'Great /ederal 0epublic of Australia'.

New South Wales (o-ernor aointed (o-ernor3(eneral for New
South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia
A vestige of Britain's federal idea survived for this brief period when
the #ew South $ales Governor was appointed Governor1General, but
the Governors never e"ercised their nominal authority.

(old rushes in New South Wales and Victoria
Australasian +eague founded in 5elbourne
2ne of several anti1transportation leagues which held meetings in
Australia and the 3nited 4ingdom and which succeeded in ending
transportation of convicts.

+ast con-icts transorted to Tasmania
ransportation to the eastern colonies was brought to an end. Convicts
were transported to $estern Australia from )*+.15*.
7onstitutional 7ommittee of New South Wales +egislati-e 7ouncil
recommended establishing a general assembl' of the colonies
$illiam Charles $entworth chaired the Committee which
recommended setting up a general assembly of the colonies to deal
with tariffs, railways, gold licences and lighthouses. he #ew South
$ales %egislative Council accepted the proposals but &ictoria,
asmania and South Australia did not, ma!ing it impossible for the
British government to accept them.

8ure2a rebellion, Ballarat, Victoria
,e-. /ohn West argued the case for 9ederation in +aunceston)s
Examiner , 1obart)s Colonial Times and the Syney Mornin!
Congregationalist minister and 6ournalist 0ev. 7ohn $est, who
founded the Anti 1 ransportation %eague in %aunceston in )*89
(later, the Australasian %eague for the Abolition of ransportation,
became convinced of the need for the colonies to form a federal union
if they were to have any influence in %ondon on such issues. :e
pursued his
argument for /ederation in a series of widely read newspaper articles
published in )*+8, republished in )*59.

5urra' ,i-er 7ustoms agreement reached between New South
Wales, South Australia and Victoria :amended 18!7;

7onstitutions roclaimed and bicameral arliaments oened in
New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania

9irst intercolonial conference, on lighthouses, held in 5elbourne
*itcairn <slanders mo-ed to Norfol2 <sland, which was laced
under control of New South Wales (o-ernor
Voting b' secret ballot introduced in Victoria and South Australia

Select 7ommittee on 9ederation reorted in Victoria

Telegrah lin2s established between Adelaide, 5elbourne and
he telegraph was e"tended to Brisbane in )*5). he networ! fostered
the growth of an intercolonial mar!et and drew the colonies into a
closer relationship.

18!" 5oreton Ba' 0istrict searated from New South Wales as the
colon' of Queensland
By )*+; there were si" Australian colonies< #ew South $ales,
$estern Australia, South Australia, asmania, &ictoria and
=ueensland, each with its own capital city.
184$ New South Wales terminated its free trade agreement with
Bicameral arliament established in Queensland

1841 South Australian 5unicial 7ororations Act enabled women to
-ote in local go-ernment elections for the first time in Australia
Women often used the right to etition arliament about roosed
(o-ernment statisticians met in intercolonial conference from

184= /ohn 5c0ouall Stuart)s e&edition comleted the first successful
south3north crossing of the continent

1846 <ntercolonial conference of Treasurers of New South Wales,
Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania
*romted b' the Tasmanian go-ernment, the conference in
5elbourne discussed forming a customs union but failed to reach
agreement, and disutes o-er customs duties continued,
articularl' between New South Wales and Victoria.
Australia)s Northern Territor' was transferred from New South
Wales to South Australia

184! <ntercolonial conference on border customs duties held in S'dne'
The agreement reached soon bro2e down but New South Wales
and Victoria signed a fi-e3'ear free trade agreement in 1847.

1847 9irst intercolonial conference :including New %ealand; on ostal
matters held in 5elbourne
7onfederation of 7anadian 7olonies established
Sir 1enr' *ar2es suggested forming a 9ederal 7ouncil

1848 Transortation to Australia ceased with arri-al of last con-ict shi
in Western Australia

184" Tasmania and Victoria connected b' telegrah
187$ Second intercolonial conference to discuss a federal customs union
and a s'stem of uniform tariffs held in 5elbourne
Tasmania again roosed the conference, with the suort of
se-eral of the 7hambers of 7ommerce. The conference reached
agreement on se-eral issues and encouraged 7harles (a-an 0uff'
to aoint a ,o'al 7ommission in Victoria to consider 9ederation.
+ast British troos withdrawn from the Australian colonies

1871 Australian Nati-es) Association :ANA; established in 5elbourne
The Victorian Nati-es) Societ' :ANA from 187=; was a friendl'
societ' whose members were Australian3born men. The' inscribed
)9ederation) on the ANA masthead. 0uring the 188$s more than
1$$ new branches were oened, including some in New South
Wales and South Australia, although Victoria remained the
heartland. The ANA romoted a consciousness of Australia and,
with the later 9ederation leagues, became a oular mo-ement
strongl' suorting 9ederation.

187= South Australian go-ernment comleted construction of >-erland
Telegrah, the first trans3Australian telegrah line The line was
built from *ort Augusta to 0arwin where it ?oined a submarine
cable to /a-a and the cable s'stem lin2ing Asia and 8uroe. 9or
the first time this enabled raid communication between 8uroe
and Australia.

1876 Australian 7olonies 0uties Act assed
,eresentati-es from all colonies and New %ealand attended a
conference in S'dne' which agreed to as2 the British go-ernment
to allow them to set different tariffs for different British
ossessions. This was granted b' the Australian 7olonies 0uties
Act in the same 'ear. Victoria, which was alread' rotectionist,
with tariffs raised to rotect local industries, abandoned its free
trade agreement with New South Wales. The issue of border
customs was left to be resol-ed b' 9ederation.

187# <ntercolonial conference held in S'dne'

1874 South Australia was first colon' to ermit formation and
registration of trade unions

1877 7ric2et team from Victoria and New South Wales defeated
8ngland in first cric2et test
7omletion of telegrah lin2 from Adelaide to *erth connected all
colonies and, -ia the >-erland Telegrah +ine, connected them
with 8uroe
National ,eform and *rotection +eague, ad-ocating high tariffs
and land ta&es, held its first )monster meeting) in 5elbourne

1878 9irst Australian e&eriments to communicate b' telehone o-er
short distances
A go-ernment3run telehone e&change oened at the S'dne'
(eneral *ost >ffice in 188= and all caitals e&cet *erth had
e&changes b' 1886.

187" 9irst intercolonial trades union congress held in S'dne'
9irst intercolonial conference on meteorolog' held in S'dne'
188$ The Bulletin began ublication in S'dne'

1881 (o-ernment statisticians arranged the first simultaneous
Australian census held as art of general imerial census
Australia)s oulation was = =!$ 1"# :e&cluding Aboriginal
*rince Albert Victor Arthur (eorge, *rince of Wales, -isited

188= Woman)s 7hristian Temerance @nion :W7T@; established in
The W7T@ and women)s suffrage organisations were both -er'
acti-e in the 9ederation cause.

1886 Sir Thomas 5c<lwraith)s Queensland go-ernment anne&ed New
(uinea on behalf of Britain
Queensland anne&ed southern New (uinea fearing that (erman'
might seiAe it, but this was reudiated b' the British go-ernment,
demonstrating how owerless Australian colonies were to act on
their own.
Ser-ice and 5c<lwraith started first sustained camaign for
federal union
Sir Thomas 5c<lwraith and Victorian *remier /ames Ser-ice
used the New (uinea issue and the 9rench threat to anne& the
New 1ebrides to ersuade New South Wales to hold an
intercolonial con-ention in S'dne'. Ser-ice and the new
Queensland *remier, Sir Samuel (riffith, were largel' resonsible
for reresentati-es) agreement to form a 9ederal 7ouncil.
>ening of S'dne'35elbourne railwa' celebrated with a banBuet
at Albur'
(eorge ,usden)s three3-olume 1istor' of Australia ublished

188# Victorian Women)s Suffrage Societ' founded
Australian Nati-es) Association)s first ma?or 9ederation
demonstration held at 5elbourne Town 1all
British *rotectorate declared o-er south3eastern New (uinea
(erman' then anne&ed north3eastern New (uinea.

188! Act to establish Australasian 9ederal 7ouncil assed b' British
9ormed to ro-ide a means of legislating on e&ternal matters such
as defence, *acific relations and Buarantine, the 7ouncil included
9i?i which first attended in 1888. South Australia withdrew in
18"1 and New South Wales and New %ealand ne-er ?oined, which
limited its effecti-eness. Sir 1enr' *ar2es oosed the 7ouncil
and most roosals for intercolonial cooeration until 188".
Australian Nati-es) Association annual conference at Bendigo
decided to hold meetings in e-er' centre to ad-ance the cause of
South Australian +egislati-e 7ouncil assed resolution allowing
women to -ote in the 7ouncil but not the 1ouse of Assembl'
7olonial troos on militar' ser-ice with Britain in Sudan

1884 =4 /anuar', 9ederal 7ouncil of Australasia met for the first time,
in 1obart
9rance anne&ed New 1ebrides

1887 Australians celebrated Queen Victoria)s /ubilee
7onference of three Australian 7hambers of 7ommerce held in
The conference was ro39ederation :to end tariff war; and formed
an Australian 9ederal @nion.
9irst 7olonial 7onference held in +ondon
,eresentati-es of all the British colonies met to discuss common
concerns, eseciall' defence and communications. The Australian
colonies resented a united front to the British go-ernment on
9rench acti-it' in the New 1ebrides. Britain agreed to maintain a
resence there.
Australasian Na-al 9orce Bill :@nited Cingdom; augmented ,o'al
Na-' resence
The colonies were not enthusiastic about a'ing a contribution
towards a ermanent ,o'al Na-' sBuadron in Australian waters
but agreed on this at the +ondon conference, as embodied in the
Australasian Na-al 9orce Bill.
,eublican @nion formed in New South Wales
Adelaide35elbourne railwa' oened

1888 Second sitting of 9ederal 7ouncil in 1obart
Sir Samuel (riffith resided o-er the meeting. The 7ouncil met in
alternate 'ears until 18"" but had little authorit' and was
hamered b' the absence of New South Wales.
<ntercolonial conference on 7hinese Buestion held in S'dne'
*remiers :e&cet Tasmanian; agreed to a common olic'
restricting 7hinese
Australia celebrated 1$$ 'ears of white settlement :e&cet the non3
enal colon' of South Australia;
The Australian Nati-es) Association romoted the use of atriotic
s'mbols such as an Australian coat of arms, wattle blossom as a
national emblem and )9oundation 0a'), first celebrated on =4
/anuar' in this centenar' 'ear of 1888. The colonies agreed to
celebrate this annuall' as a national holida'.
9irst intercolonial conference of 7hambers of 7ommerce and
,eresentati-es reaffirmed their suort for intercolonial free
Australian Nati-es) Association :ANA; romoted its 9ederation
ob?ecti-es in New South Wales b' holding a large ublic meeting
at S'dne' Town 1all
This signalled a great effort to e&and the ANA resence in New
South Wales where the new branches tended to function less as
friendl' societies and more as ad-ocates for the federal cause.
9irst meeting of Australasian Association for the Ad-ancement of
Science :AN%AAS;
Britain anne&ed south3eastern New (uinea and then administered
it ?ointl' with Queensland

188" ,eort on Australia)s defences resented b' 5a?or (eneral /
Be-an 8dwards
1e recommended a federation of militar' forces, uniform
organisation and arming, and a uniform railwa' gauge. 9our
intercolonial militar' conferences during the 18"$s imlemented
his recommendations.
1 5a', Sir 1enr' *ar2es oened bridge o-er the 1aw2esbur'
,i-er, New South Wales
This comleted the railwa' networ2 lin2ing Adelaide, 5elbourne,
S'dne' and Brisbane but intercolonial tra-el was comlicated b'
the different railwa' gauges.
=# >ctober, Sir 1enr' *ar2es) Tenterfield oration in suort of
1enr' *ar2es ga-e a -igorous :but not widel' reorted; seech at
Tenterfield, New South Wales, in which he called uon the
colonial go-ernments )to unite and create a great National
(o-ernment for all Australia). The seech indicated that *ar2es
was finall' reared to cooerate, on behalf of New South Wales,
with the other colonies in the mo-ement towards 9ederation.
*ar2es himself termed this e-ent )the first mo-ement worth' of
the noble ob?ect of bringing all Australia under one National
(o-ernment). <n resonse the other remiers agreed to an
informal 9ederation conference to be held in 18"$.
18"$ Western Australia gained resonsible go-ernment and a
bicameral arliament
=43=7 /anuar', Australian Nati-es) Association held an
intercolonial conference on 9ederation in 5elbourne
)*rime 5inisters) of all colonies e&cet Tasmania met before the
Australasian 9ederation 7onference
431# 9ebruar', Australasian 9ederation 7onference, 5elbourne
Sir 1enr' *ar2es relied to /ames Ser-ice)s toast to a united
Australasia with an emhasis on a common British heritageD )The
crimson thread of 2inshi runs through us all). The 16
)reresentati-e ublic men), reresenting the colonial
go-ernments and New %ealand, ac2nowledged )the -aluable
ser-ices of the 5embers of the 7on-ention of 1886 in founding the
9ederal 7ouncil), and resol-ed that Australia had since de-eloed
in oulation, wealth, resources and self3go-erning caacit' )to an
e&tent which ?ustifies the higher act, at all times contemlated, of
the union of these 7olonies, under one legislati-e and e&ecuti-e
go-ernment, on rinciles ?ust to the se-eral 7olonies). The'
also agreed to a national con-ention to consider a federal
5aritime stri2e
A ma?or stri2e of maritime wor2ers in se-eral colonies disruted
trade, coinciding with the onset of se-ere economic deression.
<ntercolonial rust in wheat conference
The first of fi-e such conferences held between 18"$ and 18"4.

18"1 +abor 8lectoral +eagues formed in New South Wales and @nited
+abor *art' in South Australia
These were the origins of the Australian +abor *art', Australia)s
oldest olitical art'. +abor *art' members were elected to the
South Australian *arliament and later the New South Wales
*arliament, both in 18"1. The trade union mo-ement formed
similar grous in other colonies, hoing to gain through
arliament the ad-ances the' had failed to win in their great
Some constitutional con-ention delegates met in 5arch to re-ise
resolutions reared b' Sir 1enr' *ar2es which, as chairman, he
then ut forward for debate at the ensuing con-ention
These resolutions roosed that the owers of the colonies remain
intact e&cet for the surrender of secified owers to a 9ederal
go-ernmentE that it should ha-e e&clusi-e ower to imose
customs duties and control defenceE and that trade between the
colonies should be )absolutel' free). :This hrase in the
7onstitution would later cause man' roblems.; The 7onstitution
should establish a 9ederal Sureme 7ourt and two houses of
arliament, the lower house :1ouse of ,eresentati-es; consisting
of members elected from each State on a oulation basis and an
uer house :Senate; with eBual numbers of reresentati-es from
each State. This was designed to rotect the interests of the less
oulous States who feared being out-oted b' the larger States in
the lower house. These ro-isions remained intact through all
subseBuent 9ederation debates.
9irst 7onstitutional 7on-ention :National Australasian
7on-ention;, S'dne', 5arch3Aril
Se-en delegates from each colon' and three from New %ealand
agreed to adot the name )7ommonwealth of Australia) and
drafted a constitution. Sir 1enr' *ar2es so2e of )>ne eole one
destin'). ,ichard 7haffe' Ba2er :South Australia; ro-ided A
5anual of ,eference to Authorities for the use of the National
Australasian 7on-ention with details of other federal
constitutions. Andrew <nglis 7lar2 and 7harles 7ameron
Cingston ro-ided draft constitutions, reflecting 7lar2)s ro3
@nited States and reublican -iews although reublican sentiment
generall' was submerged. T7 /ust, under <nglis 7lar2)s
instruction, also ro-ided a briefing boo2 to the Tasmanian
delegates. Sir Samuel (riffith, 7lar2 and Cingston, members of
the con-ention)s constitutional committee :which also included
8dmund Barton, Andrew Th'nne, Sir /ohn 0owner and 1enr'
Wri&on; wor2ed on the 7onstitution while on board the
go-ernment steam 'acht +ucinda which (riffith had brought
from Queensland. The conference adoted the draft 7onstitution
on " Aril but the 7onstitution Bill failed in colonial arliaments
as elections and resignations dela'ed its introduction in New South
Wales, and the colonies were in the gri of a se-ere economic
*astoralists) unions from New South Wales, Queensland, South
Australia and Victoria combined to form a 9ederal council with
eBual numbers of members from each colon'

18"= Ban2 and roert' collase in Victoria signalled worsening
economic conditions throughout eastern Australia
The earl' 18"$s were a time of se-ere economic deression in all
colonies :e&cet Western Australia;. Ban2s closed, British
in-estment dried u and immigration was halted. As colonial
arliaments struggled to deal with the crisis, interest in 9ederation
was 2et ali-e mainl' b' the Australian Nati-es) Association and
the Australasian 9ederation +eague, formed in 18"6.
8dmund Barton made a )missionar' -isit) in 0ecember to the
,i-erina, New South Wales
As a result 1! 9ederation leagues were formed in the ,i-erina
Queensland 8lections Act ioneered )referential) -oting s'stem
later adoted b' other States and b' 9ederal *arliament in 1"18

18"6 (old disco-ered in Calgoorlie, Western Australia
This reciitated the second great gold rush in Australian histor'.
New %ealand granted women right to -ote
6 /ul', Australasian 9ederation +eague :A9+; formed in S'dne'
61 /ul'31 August, 7orowa 7onference held
0elegates from the A9+ and the Australian Nati-es) Association
suorted /ohn Quic2)s motion to reBuire each arliament to
legislate for the election of reresentati-es to a constitutional
con-ention. The resulting 7onstitution would then be agreed uon
b' a referendum in each colon'. Neither Sir 1enr' *ar2es nor
Alfred 0ea2in attended the con-ention but both made searate
-isits to 7orowa.

18"# @nification of New South Wales and Victoria suggested b' New
South Wales *remier 0ibbs in /une
Sir (eorge 0ibbs was better 2nown for his coolness towards
9ederation. 1e suddenl' aealed directl' to the Victorian
*remier to begin a unification into which the smaller colonies
would later be drawn. The idea lased.
Shearers) stri2e, /une3Setember
1= No-ember, 0eutation from the Australasian 9ederation
+eague :A9+; to New South Wales *remier ,eid
A deutation from the A9+ conferred in S'dne' with (eorge ,eid
and other oliticians and /ohn Quic2 resented coies of the
7orowa resolution to an intercolonial labour conference. ,eid
agreed to the South Australian *remier)s suggestion to hold a
remiers) conference, which would ro-ide a forum to consider
Quic2)s lan.
<ntercolonial conference of municialities and delegates from
9ederation +eagues on Australasian 9ederation held at
5elbourne Town 1all in No-ember
5unicial associations were also drawn into the 9ederation
mo-ement. William Cno&, resident of 5al-ern 7ouncil
:Victoria;, chaired this conference.
18 0ecember, South Australia became the first colon' to ass an
Act gi-ing women the right to -ote :and also to stand for
South Australian branch of Australian Nati-es) Association
South Australia)s Act to 9acilitate the Settlement of <ndustrial
0isutes established a statutor' authorit', the model for all later
arbitration acts in Australia
The South Australian Act was modelled on ,ee-es) New %ealand
Act which in turn was based on the Bill reared b' 7harles
7ameron Cingston in South Australia in 18"$.
Carra2atta 7lub, the first women)s olitical discussion grou in
Australia, established in *erth, with 8dith 7owan as first