Resource Sheet 1

Boomerang versus cannon

Boomerang versus cannon cartoon from the Melbourne Punch, 14 November 1889.

Melbourne Punch, 14 November 1889.

Extract from speech by Henry Parkes at Tenterfield, 24 October 1889

General Edwards had also advised that the forces of the various colonies should be federated for operation in unison in the event of war so as to act as one great federal army. If an attack were made upon any of the colonies, it might be necessary for us to bring all our power to bear on one spot of the coast.

The great question which they had to consider was, whether the time had not now arisen for the creation on this Australian continent of an Australian Government…to preserve the security and integrity of these colonies that the whole of their forces should be amalgamated into one great federal army…They had now, from South Australia to Queensland, a stretch of about 2,000 miles of railway, and if the four colonies could only combine to adopt a uniform gauge, it would be an immense advantage to the movement of troops.

Surely, what the Americans have done by war, the Australians could bring about in peace. It is essential to preserve the security of these colonies that there should be one great federal army…We must appoint a convention of leading men from all the colonies who would…devise the constitution (for) a federal government with a federal parliament…

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 October 1889.

Mr. Barton: I rise to move the following resolutions:-

That, in order to enlarge the powers of self-government of the people of Australia, it is desirable to create a Federal Government which shall exercise authority throughout the Federated Colonies, subject to the following principal conditions:–

  1. That the powers, privileges, and territories of the several existing colonies shall remain intact, except in respect of such surrenders as may be agreed upon to secure uniformity of law and administration in matters of common concern.
  2. That, after the establishment of the Federal Government, there shall be no alteration of the territorial possessions or boundaries of any colony without the consent of the colony or colonies concerned.
  3. That the exclusive power to impose and collect duties of customs and excise, and to give bounties, shall be vested in the Federal Parliament.
  4. That the exclusive control of the military and naval defences of the Federated Colonies shall be vested in the Federal Parliament.
  5. That the trade and intercourse between the Federated Colonies, whether by land or sea, shall become and remain absolutely free.

Official report of the National Australasian Convention, Adelaide, 22 March to 5 May 1897, pp 17–27.

Barriers between brothers

'Barriers between brothers' cartoon from The Argus, 1 June 1898

The Argus, 1 June 1898, National Library of Australia.