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any instrument efficient for their purpose, and hail the accomplishment of Federation while standing humbly aside, self-effaced in their disinterested loyalty-even then Federation, as I see it, must be the act of the people, only to be brought about when the people are educated to this lofty but quite practicable ideal.
And when will the people recognise that herein their prosperity, their strength, and their security lie ? When patriotic men shall teach to some purpose instead of leading in purblind fashion only to attain a present object, and when communities shall take a national instead of a parochial view of affairs, and recognise that no nation can be great wherein the individual interest is preferred to the general; that no nation can be wealthy when the common fund is depleted to support exotic industries; that no nation can be powerful where a scattered people, broken up into semi-hostile clans, have no united purpose of defence.
It is sometimes said that the Australasian Colonies will only become one under the shadow of the sword. But what sort of Federation would that be which came of a sudden panic—the haphazard creation of a threatened invasion-even if the invader gave such notice of his coming as would admit of any manner of union ? Or what would be the prospect of an effective Federation after a foreign foe had raided and plundered and left an Australasia crippled as to population, wealth, and commerce, and thrown back in the path of progress by half a century? If Federation is to be of practical advantage for the next generation or two, it should be effected now in a time of peace, when statesmen and people can, an they will, give their minds to this great subject.
Australasia (excluding British New Guinea and Fiji) is, except as to population, in advance of the Dominion of Canada; it has greater national resources; it has a larger volume of trade; and (leaving out of consideration the few thousands of aboriginals in Australia, and the Maoris, who number about 40,000) has a population homogeneous as the Canadians are not even now. The Federation of the provinces of the Dominion was effected although Englishmen and Frenchmen had to unite in the common bund; although the French language and French laws and customs remained, as indeed, to a great extent, they still endure. Federation is moving on in South Africa, where English and Dutch occupy towards each other much the same position as the English and French in Canada. But in Australasia, where only one tongue is known, whether it be spoken by men of British descent or by nationalised Germans. or Swedes or other Europeans, and but one code of laws or manners or customs prevails, Federation is made more difficult by its very simplicity; and men who should be brothers are kept asunder by border Custom-houses that are as inappropriate as would be the raising of an octroi barrier at the entrance to every Australasian city or town.
The idea of a Federated Australasia is no new thing in the Austral Colonies. It may be said to be coeval with the creation of responsible government, for when the colony of New South Wales had her constitution under consideration, one of her statesmen—Mr. E. Deas Thomson-urged the necessity of a central Parliament that should be empowered to deal exclusively with some eight subjects that he specified. Federation was advocated by another and a very distinguished statesman (Wentworth) of New South Wales, while yet that colony was in its infancy. In 1867 it was considered and strongly recommended by a Select Committee of the Victorian Legislative Assembly; and in 1881 a conference was held in Sydney at which a Federal Council Bill, framed by Sir Henry Parkes, was adopted, but without any practical result, inasmuch as neither the Government of Sir Henry Parkes nor any other Government took any action whatever to give effect to it. The creation of a Federal Council as the first tangible step towards a fuller Federation was the work of the convention that met in Sydney two years later. It should be added, as further proof of the early conception of the Federal idea, that the Constitution Bill passed by the British Parliament in 1849 contained a provision whereby the colonies of Australia might enjoy a uniform tariff regulated by a central body.
It may be of interest if I briefly sketch the history of the Federation movement from the time of the intercolonial convention held in Sydney in November and December 1883 to the present date. It should be interesting also, albeit the tale is one of sadness, if I note the changes that have been wrought by death and other causes in the personnel of the dramatis personæ engaged in this chapter of Australasian history.
Dealing with the members of the convention of 1883, we find that there were present the following representatives : For Fiji
H. E. Sir William des Væux, K.C.M.G.
George Richard Dibbs, M.P., Colonial
Major Harry Albert Atkinson, M.P.,
Premier and Colonial Treasurer. Fred. Whitaker, M.L.C., late Premier
and Attorney-General. Queensland
Samuel Walker Griffith, Q.C., M.P.,
Premier and Colonial Secretary.
James Cox Bray, M.P., Premier and
For South Australia . The Hon. J. W. Downer, Q.C., M.P., Attorney
William Robert Giblin, M.P., Pre
mier and Attorney-General. Nicholas J. Brown, M.P., Minister
of Lands and Works. Victoria
James Service, M.P., Premier and
ney-General. Western Australia .
Malcolm Fraser, C.M.G., Colonial
Verily it may be said of these men tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. Of the fifteen engaged on that occasion, excluding Sir William des Veux, who appeared in his capacity of Governor, and not as a colonial politician, six are dead; two have reached that haven of rest for weary and strife-worn Attorneys-General, the Bench; two have been relegated to the diplomatic circle of AgentsGeneral in Westminster; one has been placed in the Speaker's chair, and one pensioned off in a Government appointment. Of the remaining three not one at the present time occupies a position, whether as Premier or Minister of the Crown, in the forefront of Australasian politics.
But it has to be recorded that the work of those men of a bygone political generation was fruitful. That convention laid the foundation-stone of Federation by the adoption of a draft bill to constitute a Federal Council of Australasia, out of which it was then hoped by many (as it still is by a few) that a complete union of the several colonies might, with the growth of time and the expansion of the Council, come about.
It would appear, however, that the members of that convention had not in all instances accurately reckoned with the popular will of the colonies they represented, or with the jealousies that might naturally be looked for from some leading politicians who, being out of office at the time, had no share in the deliberations and decisions : of the convention. Sir Henry Parkes, then still a power in the land, and shortly to reappear on the scene as Premier of New South Wales, had no voice in that convention, and from that day to this New South Wales has stood aloof from the Federal Council. New Zealand also, where the Federal spirit is languid and for practical purposes non-existent, has adopted the same attitude; and South Australia has only been of the Council during one of its six sessions between 1886 and 1895. Delegates of Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania have
been present at all six sittings, and Western Australia has been represented at five.
It is obvious that no complete or even workable form of Federation is to be expected through the medium of this Council while any of the larger self-governing colonies stand out of it; and more particularly is this the case while New South Wales is the recusant colony, for there can be for Queensland no Federation whatever unless New South Wales is included in it. This is a hard geographical fact of which Queensland statesmen make no secret, true though they be in their allegiance to the Federal Council.
And the last session of the Federal Council, held in January 1895 under its new constitution, duly emphasised the inefficiency and incompleteness that cripple its usefulness and stay its progress. Hitherto the colonies represented in it (except Fiji with its one member) had sent two delegates each. In the last session the enlarged representation gave to each of the self-governing colonies five members; but the twenty councillors who then met (representing Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania) found themselves powerless to enact any legislation of any kind, and had to be content with passing a resolution to which all the Victorian and some Tasmanian representatives objected, and from which there could by no possibility be any solid result.
*This motion was as follows:
1. That in the opinion of this Council the bill intituled “The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia (1891)’ should be considered by the various Australasian Parliaments at as early a date as possible.
2. That the Governments of the several colonies of Australia be urged to sub"mit the bill for the consideration of their respective Parliaments, and to take steps for the bolding of a second convention to deal with any amendments which may be suggested.
This motion was palpably a mere brutum fulmen at which those colonies not of the Federal Council might haply sneer, and by which no colony, whether of the Council or not, need be bound in any way. And even Queensland and Western Australia, whose representatives voted for this resolution, have not given effect to it in their Parliaments.
As a body without an exchequer or any executive functions whatever the Federal Council has only dimly adumbrated the ideal of Federal Government; and although there has come to it expansion as regards the number of delegates, there has been no extension of its legislative powers, which remain to-day what they were at the outset.
The following are the subjects in respect of which the Imperial Parliament has conferred legislative authority upon the Federal Council of Australasia :
(a) The relations of Australasia with the islands of the Pacific. (6) Prevention of the influx of criminals.
(c) Fisheries in Australasian waters beyond territorial limits.
(d) The service of civil process of the courts of any colony within her Majesty's possession in Australasia out of the jurisdiction of the colony in which it is issued.
(e) The enforcement of judgments of courts of law of any colony beyonds the limits of the colony.
(f) The enforcement of criminal process beyond the limits of the colony in which it is issued, and the extradition of offenders (including deserters of wives and children, and deserters from the Imperial or colonial naval or military forces).
(9) The custody of offenders on board ships belonging to her Majesty's Colonial Governments beyond territorial limits.
(h) Any matter which at the request of the Legislatures of the colonies her Majesty by Order in Council shall think fit to refer to the Council.
(*) Such of the following matters as may be referred to the Council by the Legislatures of any two or more colonies; that is to say, general defences, quarantine, patents of invention and discovery, copyright, bills of exchange and promissory notes, uniformity of weights and measures, recognition in other colonies of any marriage or divorce duly solemnised or decreed in any colony, naturalisation of aliens, status of corporations and joint-stock companies in other colonies than that in which they have been constituted, and any other matter of general Australasian interest with respect to which the Legislatures of the several colonies can legislate within their own limits, and as to which it is deemed desirable that there should be a law of general application. Provided that in such cases the Act of the Council shall extend only to the colonies by whose Legislatures the matter shall have been referred to it, and such other colonies as may afterwards adopt the same.
In addition to the subjects above mentioned the Council is authorised to legislate on any question relating to the colonies represented in the Council or to their relations with one another which the Governor of any two or more of the colonies shall upon an address of the Legislatures of such colonies refer to the consideration of the Council.
After seven years' experience of the Federal Council, the colonies unanimously, and without regard to the question of their having joined in it or not, resolved that some more complete union was immediately required, and at the Federation conference held in Melbourne in 1890, whereat all seven of the self-governing colonies were represented, the following resolutions were passed :
1. That in the opinion of this conference the best interests and the present and future prosperity of the Australasian colonies will be promoted by an early union under the Crown; and, while fully recognising the valuable services of the members of the convention of 1883 in founding the Federal Council, it declares Vol. XL-No. 233