Why were intercolonial tariffs an issue for Tasmania?
Before Federation, each Australian colony had different trade laws, especially in regard to whether or not they charged taxes, or intercolonial tariffs, on incoming goods.
Tasmania was one of the colonies that charged intercolonial tariffs, and it relied heavily on the income they generated. The tariffs made imported goods more expensive. This protected local industries that were not profitable enough to compete with cheaper imports. The Tasmanian Government did not want to lose these tariffs as a result of Federation.
How might the proposed removal of intercolonial tariffs have affected Tasmanians’ attitudes to Federation?
Investigate what effect the removal of intercolonial tariffs could have had on Tasmania.
- As a class, read the letter and the newspaper extracts. Discuss or use a dictionary to find meanings for any words you don’t know.
- Form four groups. Each group will carefully examine either the letter or one of the newspaper extracts. Discuss the following questions and record your answers.
- Who, in Tasmania, does your letter or extract represent?
- Is your person in favour or against the removal of intercolonial tariffs? Provide evidence for your thinking.
- Could the issue of removing intercolonial tariffs have been used as a reason to federate with the other colonies? Provide reasons for your thinking.
- Could the issue of removing intercolonial tariffs have been used as a reason not to federate? Provide reasons for your thinking.
- Use the ‘costs and benefits chart’ to record possible short- and long-term costs of, and benefits for, the removal of intercolonial tariffs on the people represented by your letter or extract. Share your group’s response with the class.
- Based on what you have found out so far, do you believe the decision to federate would have been an easy one or a hard one for the people of Tasmania? Provide reasons for your thinking.