Independence of Australia

The term Independence of Australia refers to the political and legislative process that led from Australia’s dependence as a British colony to its autonomy as a nation state.

The territories that would form the independent nation of Australia have had a human population for at least 50,000 years. According to the most prevalent theory, the first inhabitants would have come from Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age , eventually spreading across the continent. Divided into hundreds of clans, who had a hunter-gatherer way of life, they are better known today as the Aborigines and would remain culturally isolated from the rest of the world for tens of thousands of years.

Despite mention of the Australian region in Portuguese and Spanish documents from the Medieval Era and the beginning of the Modern Era, the Aboriginals’ best known contact with the outside world came almost in the Contemporary Era, when Captain James Cook was tasked with carrying out an exploratory expedition. in the region. On April 28, 1770, Cook and his crew first landed on the Australian coast. Shortly thereafter, on August 22, the British Crown officially took over the new lands, jointly named New South Wales.

At first, the new possession was basically used as a penal colony. In parallel to the brutal domination of the native Aboriginal population, the British were expanding possible economic benefits over New South Wales by donating land for planting to the thousands of prisoners who managed to finish serving their sentences during the 19th century. Eventually, six states would be established: New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania, plus some territories, with the Northern Territory being the largest of them.

Although each state had its own government subordinate to Great Britain, which generated differences in issues related to laws and taxes, the issue of regional pride began to grow among states in the late decades of the 19th century. Seeing the benefits of a possible union in terms of military defense, immigration and trade, many of the states joined the newly opened Australasian Federal Council in the mid-1880s, but the initiative failed due to lack of interest on the part of New South Wales and South Australia. In the early 1890s, however, the Australian National Convention met in Sydney, where processes began to form a Commonwealth of Australia with its states.

By 1900, all members of the federation had already passed their constitutional referendums, with only British acceptance missing. After Parliament authorized the appropriate legislation, Queen Victoria formally allowed its use in 1901, allowing the Commonwealth of Australia to govern itself. Although this is the traditional year touted as the beginning of Australia as a sovereign nation, the fact remains that it was Britain that still had the power to veto laws passed by the Australian Parliament, and would still represent the Commonwealth of Australia at international conferences by many years.

Only after the end of the First World War did Australia become more active and autonomous at the international level, even participating in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles . In 1931, the British Parliament effectively authorized the end of the use of the veto in colonial parliaments, which Australia used to gain legislative equality, with the exception of only a submission in military matters, which would also end with the Second World War. . After several decades of debate, the Australian Act would finally be authorized by the British Parliament in 1986, which severed the country’s last colonial ties with Britain. Although they still share a monarch with the United Kingdom, therefore, since then Australia is a totally independent country, being currently marked by its constant technological and cultural advances.

by Abdullah Sam
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