Federation: Australia Unites

Image: Opening of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 9 May 1901. Painting by Tom Roberts


Prior to 1901, Australia consisted of six British colonies. Each colony made laws for the people within their colony. In 1900 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act was passed by the UK parliament, which set up the Australian Federal Parliament. In January 1901, Australia became a nation (Federation) and the colonies became self-governed States of Australia. Sir Edmund Barton was declared Australia’s first Prime Minister.

Federation Quiz

  1. How many British colonies were there in Australia before 1901?
  2. Give one reason why the colonies decided to federate.
  3. On what date did Australia become a nation?
  4. Which was the last colony to join the Federation?
  5. At the time of Federation which country did the colonies look to as the ‘mother country’?
  6. What is the Australian Constitution
  7. How did the Australian people agree to Federate?
  8. What did the British Parliament do so that Australia could federate?
  9. What was the name of Australia’s first Prime Minister?
  10. How many people watched the ceremony in Centennial Park when Australia was first declared a nation?
  11. Where did Australia’s first Federal Parliament meet (see picture above)?


In small groups, brainstorm some of the arguments for and against Federation?


Some bookmarked links to further information on Federation.


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