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Federation Timeline and Bibliography

Timeline | Bibliography


1846 29 September Governor FitzRoy of New South Wales in a despatch suggested the need for a 'central intercolonial authority'
1847 Earl Grey proposed a central legislative authority
1850 Australian Colonies Government Act passed by British Parliament
1851 Victoria separated from New South Wales
1855 Van Diemen's Land renamed Tasmania
1856 Self government achieved
1857 Select Committees in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia held to discuss the possibility of a federal union
1859 Queensland separated from New South Wales
1863 Intercolonial Conference of Treasurers held in Melbourne to discuss uniform tariffs and customs
1867 Union of the Canadian dominions
1870 British troops withdrawn
1871 Australian Natives Association established
1872 Overland telegraph lines completed between Adelaide and Darwin
1873 Australian Colonies Duties Act passed by British Parliament
1877 Britain was defeated in the first cricket test by a team from Victoria and New South Wales
1881 Henry Parkes proposed a Federal Council to consider matters of joint interest to the Australasian Colonies
1883 Queensland annexed New Guinea
Proposal to establish Federal Council formalised by Premiers
1885 Sudan Contingent
An Act to Constitute the Federal Council of Australasia passed by British Parliament
1886 First meeting of Federal Council in Hobart. Representatives from Western Australia, Fiji, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria attended. New South Wales refused to join
1889 Major-General Sir J. Bevan Edwards reported on the defence of the Australian Colonies
24 October Sir Henry Parkes made a speech at Tenterfield calling for 'a great national government for all Australia'
1890 Melbourne conference held to discuss the National Convention
1891 The First National Australasian Convention held in Sydney
1893 Corowa Convention
1895 Premiers Conference in Hobart agreed to a second Constitutional Convention with elected delegates from each colony
1896 27 April Death of Sir Henry Parkes
November People's Federal Convention held in Bathurst
1897 22 March-23 April First Session 2–24 September, Second Session of The Second National Australasian Convention held
1898 20 January-17 March Third Session of The Second National Australasian Convention adopted a draft constitution
3 June New South Wales referendum failed to reach statutory minimum
1899 24-27 January Last meeting of the Federal Council of Australasia held
29 January-2 February 'Secret' Premiers meeting in Melbourne agreed to six amendments to the Constitution Bill including that the site of the Capital be in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney
April-September New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania & Queensland voted 'Yes' in referenda. Only Western Australia refrained
War in South Africa began (Boer War)
1900 March Australian delegates went to London to negotiate the enactment of the Constitution
June–July Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act is passed by British Parliament
9 July Queen Victoria gave the Royal Assent to the aforementioned Act
31 July Western Australia joined the Federation after a Yes vote in the referendum
21 September Lord Hopetoun was officially appointed as Governor-General of Australia
1901 1 January The Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed and inauguration ceremonies are held at Centennial Park, Sydney with the swearing-in of the Governor-General and interim federal ministry
22 January Death of Queen Victoria
29 March First federal elections held. Edmund Barton confirmed as first Prime Minister
31 March Census held in all States
9 May The first Commonwealth Parliament opened by the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) in Melbourne
December First Commonwealth troops embarked to fight Boers in South Africa
1902 Vote extended to all women but denied to Aboriginal people by the Commonwealth Franchise Act
1903 Commonwealth Naturalization Act passed
1904 Court of Conciliation and Arbitration established
1907 First federal basic wage handed down by Court of Conciliation and Arbitration
1908 Commonwealth Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act passed
National capital site selected in the Yass–Canberra District
1909 New South Wales surrendered territory for the seat of the Commonwealth Government
1910 Australian Notes Actwas passed which gave the Commonwealth Government power to issue bank notes
1911 Responsibility for the Northern Territory transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth Government
1912 Commonwealth Bank established
Walter Burley Griffin won the international competition to design the federal capital
1913 Commonwealth Government issued its first stamps
Federal capital named Canberra
Norfolk Island transferred to the Commonwealth from New South Wales control
1914 Australia entered World War I
1915 25 April ANZACS landed at Dardanelles and fought at Gallipoli
Responsibility for lighthouses transferred to Commonwealth Government
1916 First Anzac Day commemorated
1918 World War I ended
Australia House (London) opened by King George V
1919 Influenza pandemic
William Hughes, Australian Prime Minister attended the Versailles Peace Conference
1921 Edith Cowan (Western Australia) first woman elected to an Australian Parliament
1922 British Empire Settlement Act passed by Commonwealth Government to encourage British immigrants and to settle rural lands came into force. Agreements were made between the British, Commonwealth and State Governments
1924 Federal Cabinet met in Canberra for the first time
Compulsory voting in Federal elections introduced
1927 9 May The Duke of York (later King George VI) opened Parliament in Canberra
1951 Commonwealth Jubilee (50th anniversary)
2001 Centenary of Federation


Australian Archives, Federation: The Guide to the Records, Australian Archives, Canberra, 1998.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1979.

The Australian Encyclopaedia, 4th ed., Vol. 4, The Grolier Society of Australia, Sydney, 1983.

Centenary of Federation. Web site (online), URL: (cited May 2001).

Clark, C.M.H. A History of Australia, Vol. V, Melbourne University Press, Burwood, Vic., 1987.

Documenting a democracy. Web site (on-line), URL: (cited May 2001).

Irving, Helen, ed., The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation, University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, 1999.

Macquarie Book of Events, Macquarie Library, McMahons Point, NSW, 1983.

New South Wales Parliament, Votes and Proceedings, 1891 Vol. 1, NSW, 1891.

1901 Centre, UTS. Web site (online), URL: (cited May 2001).

Pegrum, Roger. The Bush Capital: How Australia chose Canberra as its federal city, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1983.

Quick, John and Garran, Robert Randolph. The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1901.

Reserve Bank of Australia. Web site (online), URL: (cited April 2001).

Wilcox, Craig. The Boer War: Australians and the War in South Africa, 1899–1902, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, 1999.

State Records Authority of New South Wales
Sydney,  Australia
May, 2001
© Copyright reserved by the Government of NSW, 2001. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method without the prior written consent of the State Records Authority of NSW.
ISBN 0-7310-1759-5