The Causes of Federation in Australia Are Both Pragmatic and Ideological. Outline and Analyse Some of Those Causes as a Rationale for Federation.

Topics: Australia, Prime Minister of Australia, New South Wales Pages: 7 (2584 words) Published: April 10, 2013
The causes of Federation in Australia are both pragmatic and ideological. Outline and analyse some of those causes as a rationale for federation.

The federation of Australia was the development by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland united together and formed one nation. The constitution of Australia came into force on the 1st of January 1901. There are many pragmatic and ideological reasons as to the cause of federation within Australia, which will be discussed in further detail and depth. The pragmatic causes that will be discussed include trade and transport, defense, and immigration. The trade and transport issues relate to the problems and difficulties that Australian’s had in terms of the incoming goods coming from other colonies and overseas. This meant that consumers were buying goods from overseas rather then locally. Implementing federation would mean that tariffs would be put on these incoming goods, which helped protect Australia. Transport was also a major issue within Australia before federation, as each colony had their own rail gauge. This created many issues such as time delays and the inconvenience for people travelling on the trains. Before federation, each colony had their own defence and immigration laws. If federation were to be passed, it would mean that the colonies were able to unite their defence forces, making the nation stronger and keeping out the non-Europeans. As well as many pragmatic causes to federation, there are also ideological causes. The people of Australia wanted to belong to a nation. They wanted people to see how great Australia was. If federation was to be approved, the people of Australia’s national identity would be increased, and they would feel proud and humble about their country. It also coincides with the belief of egalitarianism, the belief that everyone should be treated the same. John Hirst’s view of federation in religious terms as ‘a sacred cause’ demonstrates that the reasons for federation were in fact philosophical, and that the thought of Australia being a united nation was something that had been in the process for many years, and was expected to happen.

One of the reasons as to why federation was encouraged was that the implication of federation would make it easier to trade, travel and communicate between the states. Before federation was established, in the late 1800s the Victorian government realised that goods from overseas and other colonies were being produced at a lesser rate than what their own industries could provide. The policy of protectionism was then imposed, which included putting tariffs on the incoming goods and encouraging consumers to buy the items from inside the colonies. The taxes created tension between the colonies, and therefore the act of free trade between the colonies was encouraged. One of the laws with federation was that it would enable free trade between the states. This meant that the tariffs would be abolished, and consumers and business people were able to take goods over the borders and between colonies at no charge. This created many advantages such as time and the amount of money spent. When people crossed the borders between colonies they had to stop and show the border guards any goods that they had purchased, and then pay the tariff for the items, therefore it was very time consuming. Businesses such as bankers and merchants, who did business in more than one colony, were in favour to federation as it meant that it would be much easier for them to trade and make payments between the colonies. The acts of abolishing the tariffs between the states were an ‘attempt to provide fair and equitable wages and conditions for workers’ (Gare & Ritter, 2008, p. 245). Transport was also something that was promised to change with the inclusion of federation. Before federation, the colonies were restricted in getting...
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