Investigation 2

What resolutions passed at the first Australasian Federal Convention addressed the issues that concerned South Australians?

Adelaide hosted the first of three Australasian Federal Conventions, held between 1897 and 1898, to debate the issue of Federation and work on a draft Australian Constitution. The Constitution is an important document outlining the powers of a government. The fact that this Convention was held in Adelaide was considered a victory by the smaller colonies as earlier Federation conferences had been held in the larger cities of Melbourne (1890) and Sydney (1891).

South Australian Premier, Charles Cameron Kingston was an original member of a drafting committee for the Constitution at the 1891 conference. The draft was presented to delegates at the Convention in Adelaide, held from 22 March to 23 April 1897, and work continued to formulate a Constitution that all colonies could agree upon.

After the Convention, delegates adjourned to their home colonies to consider the draft. The delegates would later meet in Sydney from 2 to 24 September 1897, and again in Melbourne, from 22 January to 17 March 1898. They went through the Constitution clause by clause and made any necessary amendments to finalise it.

Your Task

Examine which of the resolutions passed at the first Australasian Federal Convention addressed issues that were of concern to South Australians.


  1. As a class, read through the resolutions passed at the Convention. Use a dictionary to find the meaning of any words you do not know.
  2. Consider the issues of concern to South Australians that you investigated previously, inlcluding defence, trade, rivers, the Northern Territory and the nation’s capital. As a class, discuss the following questions.
    • Which issues were resolved in Adelaide?
    • In your opinion, were the resolutions fair?
    • Which issues were not resolved?
    • Why might those have been left unresolved?
  3. Work in pairs to answer the following questions.
    • Which resolutions were introduced that related to a new issue?
    • Why might these resolutions have been introduced?
    • Do you foresee any problems for South Australians related to those resolutions?
  4. Share your response with the rest of the class.