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The colonies' paths to federation: Queensland

Bolton, G. and Waterson, D. (1999) The colonies' paths to federation: Queensland. In: Irving, H., (ed.) The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, pp. 93-128.

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Queensland record in the Australasian Federation movement was the most paradoxical of all the participants. It was Queensland's sense of Australian commercial and strategic interests in the South-West Pacific, and in particular Sir Thomas McIlwraith's lunge for the annexation of eastern New Guinea in 1883, which provoked the first serious thinking about Federation among the Australasian colonies, and led to the creation of the Federal Council in 1885. At the Melbourne meeting of 6 - 14 February 1890 and the National Australasian Convention in Sydney in 1891, the Queensland delegates, especially Samuel Griffith and John Macrossan, played an influential part. But Queenslanders were absent from the Corowa Convention of 1893 and from all three sessions of the 1897-98 Convention, and did not return to the fold until the Premiers' Conference of January 1899. At the referendum (only one was held in Queensland, on 2 September 1899) the Yes margin was the narrowest of any of the Australian colonies. Why, then, after such an initially promising and prominent start was there such a general reluctance among Queensland politicians to participate in the movement towards Federation? Why did Queensland so determinedly drag the chain?

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: 1999 Cambridge University Press
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