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Reasons for Australian Federation

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Reasons for Australian Federation

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  • August 24, 2004
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Question: Outline the main reasons for Federation. What was the main reason?

Federation happened in 1901 when the six separate Australian colonies came together 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 Policy" 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 Policy" 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. 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...