Teacher Guide Federation Timeline

Dates 1856–1927

Australia’s democracy has been shaped by many people, events and ideas throughout history. This timeline provides a quick reference to the events explored in Getting it Together – From Colonies to Federation. These events are important in Australia’s progress towards nationhood.

1856 Responsible government achieved in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
1857 Responsible government achieved in South Australia.
1860 Responsible government achieved in Queensland.
1863 Northern Territory comes under South Australian administration from New South Wales.
1887 Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
1889 Henry Parkes campaigns for Federation in his Tenterfield Oration.
Colony Premiers agree to a Federation conference.
1890 The Australasian Federation Conference held in Melbourne in February. Conference decides a convention should be called to write a constitution.
Responsible government achieved in Western Australia.
1891 Australasian Convention held in Sydney where a Constitution is drafted (March–April).
1893 Corowa Conference passes the Corowa Plan to implement a new constitutional process.
1894 South Australian women gain the right to vote.
1895 A modified Corowa Plan adopted at the Premiers’ Conference in Hobart.
1896 Bathurst People’s Federal Convention held.
1897 First session of the Australasian Federal Convention held in Adelaide (March–April) Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
Second session of the Australasian Federal Convention held in Sydney (September).
1898 Third session of the Australasian Federal Convention held in Melbourne. Convention adopts the draft Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth.
Unsuccessful referendum on the Constitution Bill in New South Wales.
Successful referendums in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
1899 Premiers’ ‘secret’ conference, Melbourne, agrees to amend the Constitution Bill.
Successful referendum in South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland.
Western Australian women gain the right to vote.
Outbreak of the South African War (Boer War) and the colonies send troops.
1900 The British Parliament passes the Constitution Bill and the Bill receives royal assent.
Successful referendum held in Western Australia (31 July).
Royal Proclamation of the Commonwealth (17 September).
1901 Inauguration of the Commonwealth in Sydney (1 January).
Edmund Barton becomes Australia’s first Prime Minister.
Death of Queen Victoria (22 January).
First elections for the Commonwealth Parliament (29–30 March).
The first Federal Parliament officially opened in Melbourne (9 May).
The new Commonwealth raises more troop contingents for the Boer War.
Commonwealth Parliament passes the Pacific Island Labourers Act to send Pacific Island labourers home (December).
Commonwealth Parliament passes Immigration Restriction Act designed to stop Asian immigration (December).
1902 End of hostilities in the Boer War (May).
Commonwealth Parliament passes the Commonwealth Franchise Act to give the vote to men and women (June).
Women win the right to vote for the New South Wales Parliament.
1903 Women in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria vote for the first time for the Commonwealth Parliament (December).
Women win the right to vote for the Tasmanian Parliament.
1905 Women win the right to vote for the Queensland Parliament.
1908 Women win the right to vote for the Victorian Parliament.
Australian Coat of Arms proclaimed.
1909 Australian currency introduced.
1911 Australian Capital Territory established (January).
Commonwealth Parliament assumes control of the Northern Territory from South Australia (January).
Introduction of compulsory enrolment for Commonwealth elections.
1913 Canberra is chosen as the site of the future national capital.
1914 Outbreak of hostilities in First World War.
1915 Australian and New Zealand troops land at Gallipoli.
1916 First referendum to conscript Australians into battle fails.
1917 Second referendum to conscript Australians into battle fails.
Transcontinental Railway completed.
1918 End of hostilities in First World War.
1921 Edith Cowan elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly and becomes the first woman elected to an Australian Parliament.
1924 Introduction of compulsory voting for Commonwealth elections.
1927 Canberra becomes the national capital.
Commonwealth Parliament begins sitting in Canberra in the Provisional Parliament House.