Investigation 4

Who were some Victorian political figures that played a role in the Federation movement?

Although most Victorians consistently supported the idea of the colonies federating, those in the Victorian Government became more cautious as firm plans for the Commonwealth developed. As elected politicians, these men had a special responsibility to work for the best interests of Victoria. They had to understand any issues and questions relating to Federation that might be of particular concern to people in the colony. Victorian politicians, Alfred Deakin and John Quick, were two of the most active supporters of Federation. They gave public speeches, attended conferences and wrote articles arguing in favour of joining the new Commonwealth. Isaac Isaacs and Victorian Premier, George Turner also campaigned strongly for Federation, even though they initially had some reservations.

What qualities do you think these leaders would have needed to be effective in guiding Victoria towards Federation?

Your Task

Discover the values, leadership qualities and motivations of four Victorian political leaders in the late 1800s.


  1. As a class, brainstorm a list of the values that you imagine must motivate strong political leaders. The nine Values for Australian Schooling may be used as a starting point. Go to the Values Education website. Then, click on ‘National’, followed by ‘National Framework: Nine Values for Australian Schooling’. Brainstorm a second list of leadership qualities. It might be useful to have some leaders in mind when creating this list.
  2. Form groups of four. Each group member will be responsible for reading one of the biographies of Victorian leaders in the late 1800s. Your task is to identify your person’s values and leadership qualities. As you read the biography, consider why you believe specific facts or events are examples of a value or leadership quality.
  3. Read your person’s biography to your group. Explain the values and leadership qualities that you have identified. Be prepared to justify your observations, if required.
  4. As a class, make a list of the possible motivations John Quick, Alfred Deakin, George Turner and Isaac Isaacs might have had for wanting to make a difference in Victoria, and in supporting Federation. There are no right or wrong answers, but you need to be able to justify your suggestions based on the biographies that you have explored.