Debates that shaped the nation: A timeline of events at the time of Federation

Some of the important events leading to Federation:

22 March–
23 April 1897
First session of the National Australasian Convention is held in Adelaide to work towards a Federal Constitution. All colonies except Queensland attended.
2–24 September 1897Second session of the National Australasian Convention is held in Sydney.
20 January–
17 March 1898
Third and final session of the National Australasian Convention is held in Melbourne. Delegates agree on a draft Constitution.
29 January–
2 February 1899
The Premiers of all the six colonies meet in Melbourne to discuss changes to the proposed Constitution. Because it is a private meeting, it is called the ÔSecret Premiers' Conference. The meeting agrees to some changes to meet the concerns of Queensland and New South Wales. It also decides to have a federal capital in New South Wales but not within 100 miles of Sydney.
29 April 1899The South Australian referendum about Federation is won.
20 June 1899The New South Wales referendum is won.
27 July 1899The Victorian and Tasmanian referendums are won.
2 September 1899The Queensland referendum is won.
4 November 1899The Constitution Bill is passed in Queensland.
22 December 1899Australian delegates are invited to London to negotiate the enactment in Britain of the Constitution Bill.
15 March 1900The first delegates' meeting is held in London.
19–21 April 1900A conference of State Premiers is held in Melbourne to support the delegates in London. The meeting confirms that the delegates' mission is to have the Constitution Bill passed in London in the form voted for by the Australian people.
14 May 1900The Commonwealth Bill is introduced into the House of Commons in London.
5 July 1900The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act is passed by the British Parliament.
9 July 1900Queen Victoria gives royal assent to the Act.
31 July 1900The Western Australian referendum is won.
17 September 1900Queen Victoria proclaims that the Commonwealth of Australia, comprising all six colonies, will come into existence on 1 January 1901.
21 September 1900Lord Hopetoun is appointed first Governor-General of Australia.
1 Jan 1901The Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed in Centennial Park, Sydney. Edmund Barton is sworn in as first Prime Minister.
22 January 1901Queen Victoria dies and is succeeded by Edward VII.
1 March 1901The Commonwealth Government takes control of a wide range of functions formerly exercised by the colonies, including military forces, postal and customs departments and immigration. The Commonwealth's constitutional powers include the power to legislate about trade with other countries and among the States; taxation, customs and excise; defence; banking; currency and coins; weights and measures; postal, telegraphic and telephonic services; railways; conciliation and arbitration; census and statistics; fisheries; federal territories; and the federal public service.
20 March 1901The first federal election is held. Adult men are allowed to vote in all States, but Aborigines and women can vote in some States only.
31 March 1901A census shows that the population of Australia is 3,773,801. Aborigines were not counted.
9 May 1901The first Federal Parliament is opened by the Duke of York (later George V) at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Federal Parliament is to meet in Melbourne until 1927 when the capital moves to Canberra.
3 September 1901Australia's new national flag is flown for the first time. There were 32,823 entries in the competition for its design.

More extensive timelines are available on the One Destiny! CD-ROM and from the National Archives of Australia website on
http://www.naa.gov.au/visit-us/education/resources/index.aspx. Choose: Documenting a Democracy.

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