Investigation 1

What issues led some Western Australians to oppose or doubt Federation?

Before Western Australia could reach a decision on Federation, the people of the colony had to consider possible advantages and disadvantages. Many different views were expressed and debated.

The newspapers of the time often included letters and articles by people who had strong opinions that they wanted to share. These items provide insights into what some Western Australians were thinking in the 1890s—including why some believed that moves towards Federation should be avoided or, at least, taken with great caution.

Your Task

Explore the concerns that the people of Western Australia had about Federation.


  1. In pairs, examine one of the items from The West Australian newspaper. Read it aloud and talk about what the article or letter is saying about Western Australia being part of Federation. Is it positive about the possibility? What reasons are given to support the article or letter’s position?
  2. Join with other pairs that have examined the same item. Discuss it as a group, then share your item and your understandings with the rest of the class.
  3. As a class, list the issues and concerns that are represented in all the items. Brainstorm other reasons for and against Federation from the point of view of Western Australians.
  4. Design two posters: one that is in favour of Federation and another that is against Federation. Think of an exciting slogan for both points of view.