Investigation 4

What were some of the arguments presented by Tasmanians for and against Federation?

Many people who had strong opinions about Federation actively campaigned to build support for their viewpoint. Tasmanian federation leagues were established to promote the advantages of Federation.

Groups were also formed to oppose Federation. These people were known as ‘anti-Billites’ because the referendums on Federation would involve voting on a proposed law (the Constitution Bill), which would allow the Australian Constitution to become official.

Both campaigns used many strategies to gain support. Strategies included holding meetings throughout the colony, writing to newspapers, giving speeches, displaying posters and gathering signatures.

What arguments do you think supporters of Federation and ‘anti-Billites’ might have presented in their campaigns?

Your Task

Investigate the arguments for and against Federation. Form an opinion, and then develop a political campaign.


  1. As a class, read the extracts by Braddon and Walker. Discuss or use a dictionary to find meanings for any words you don’t know.
  2. In a small group, complete the following tasks.
    • Make a list of the reasons for and against Federation.
    • Add any other reasons you can think of to the list. You can refer to all the resources you have read.
    • Share your responses with another small group. Combine your responses and share them with the rest of the class.
  3. Have a ‘question and answer’ session. Ask any questions you may have about the reasons for or against Federation, or anything else that may be unclear to you.
  4. If you had the right to vote at the time, would you have voted for or against Federation? Provide reasons for your choice.
  5. Join with three or four classmates who share your views about Federation. Your small group will develop a political campaign. It will need to do the following tasks.
    • Decide who the target audience for your campaign will be—remember, different groups in the community had a range of concerns.
    • Record a short number of reasons why your audience should support your point of view. Think of catchy slogans to clearly explain your reasons.
    • Think of the techniques you will use to present your campaign. Use different strategies, including posters, letters and speeches to demonstrate the reasons people should support your point of view.
    • Present your campaign to your classmates.