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1 January 1901 - Federation

On 1 January 1901 Australia became a nation. The leading article in the Advertiser on that day, celebrating the federation of the States, stated: 'The future greatness of the Commonwealth of Australia is no mere careless speculation or optimistic dream ....'

South Australia was in the forefront of plans for the federation of the colonies from the time of responsible government in SA in 1857. From 1862 South Australia participated in inter-colonial conferences and sought agreement on a uniform tariff. The first federal convention was held in 1891 in Sydney and the second series, in 1897-98, was held in Adelaide, then Sydney and Melbourne. South Australia sent ten delegates to these meetings, all of them experienced federalists. In fact Prime Minister Alfred Deakin later wrote: 'measured by all round ability the South Australian delegation was undoubtedly the strongest'.

Under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia the colonies ceded to the federal government the control of overseas relations, defence, customs, immigration, money, banking and other matters of general national importance. Federation also saw the loss to South Australia of a number of its most competent politicians who moved into the federal sphere.

Dean Jaensch, 'Party, Party Systems, and Federation 1890-1912' in Dean Jaensch (ed), The Flinders History of South Australia Political History , 1986, pp.190-193.

Tags: Federation