Australia officially became a federated nation on January 1, 1901, following a series of events and negotiations that led to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The idea of federation had been discussed among Australian colonies for several decades prior to this date, with the first formal proposals being made in the 1850s. However, it wasn’t until the 1890s that momentum truly began to build towards federation.
In 1891, a convention was held in Sydney to discuss the potential for federation. Delegates from all of the Australian colonies (with the exception of Western Australia) attended, and the convention resulted in a draft Constitution for a proposed federation.
This draft Constitution was put to a vote in all of the colonies in 1898, with the majority of colonies voting in favor of federation. However, the crucial colony of New South Wales did not pass the vote, meaning that federation could not proceed.
In 1899, a second convention was held in Melbourne to revise the draft Constitution. This convention was attended by representatives from all colonies, including Western Australia. The revised Constitution was put to a vote in all colonies in 1900, with the majority voting in favor.
On July 9, 1900, the British Parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which officially established the Commonwealth of Australia as a federation of colonies. The Act came into effect on January 1, 1901, making this the official date of Australia’s federation.
It is worth noting that the process of federation was not without opposition. Many people in the colonies were resistant to the idea of federation, and there were disagreements over issues such as the distribution of power between the federal and state governments. However, the majority of Australians ultimately came to support the idea of federation, and it was this support that led to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The first federal election was held in Australia on March 31, 1901, and the first federal government was sworn in on May 1, 1901. The first prime minister was Edmund Barton, who served until September 24, 1903. He was succeeded by Alfred Deakin, who served as prime minister until April 27, 1904.
In summary, Australia officially became a federated nation on January 1, 1901, following a series of events and negotiations that began in the 1890s and resulted in the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, with the majority of colonies voting in favor of federation. The first federal government was sworn in on May 1, 1901, with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister.