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the provincial Governments; and without haggling over the items, we would be prepared to hand over our Custom-houses, post offices, and other necessary establishments for the common good, provided others did the same." That there must be local governments in the provinces he admitted; but he would confine these local governments, “as in Canada," within subordinate limits, and to strictly local purposes. He practically admitted that the other colonies could not be induced to join such a union at the outset ; but he submitted the following draft outline of a scheme for the consideration of the people of the two colonies of New South Wales and Victoria :Unification of New South Wales and Victoria as a preliminary

to complete Australian Union. “Union for all national purposes to be complete as under :(1.) One Viceroy, or Governor. (2.) One Parliament of two Chambers. (3.) One Customs tariff. (4.) One scale of excise duties. (5.) One joint debt. (6.) One railway management. (7.) One land revenue and one land law. Until the laws are

consolidated, existing regulations to hold good. (8.) One Defence Administration. (9.) One postal and telegraph administration. (10.) Provincial Government, with wide local powers. (11.) Surplus revenue of the Supreme Government to be appor

tioned to the Provinces—partly on a population basis,

partly on an occupied mileage area basis. (12.) Certain departments of the Public Service removed from

political influence may have their headquarters in Mel

bourne, others in Sydney. (13.) One High Commissioner's establishment in London, repre

senting the whole. (14.) One Supreme Court. (15.) Title, “The United Colonies.' Afterwards, when South

Australia and Queensland come in, the title to be “The

Dominion of Australia.'' This letter evoked merely a non-committal reply from Sir James Patterson, but it was printed and circulated, and found a certain number of adherents. Unification-assuming it to be practicabledoes undeniably present certain advantages over Federation, and has always, in the minds of many people, seemed a preferable form of Government. Sir George Dibbs, of course, was not the first apostle of unification—an idea which really meant little more than undoing the work of separation and re-establishing the earlier complete unity, Sir John Robertson-a typical New South Wales anti-federalist—had always expressed his willingness to welcome Victoria back as a “ repentant child;” and there is reason to believe that even Sir Henry Parkes, at the very outset of his career, had some leaning to a complete amalgamation. He had soon convinced himself, however, that a federal union was the only form of union to which the assent of the Australian colonies could possibly be secured. The history of the colonies as self-governing communities had given rise to local sentiments and local patriotisms; their several free institutions were the results of long and arduous political struggles; and any attempt to abolish the constitutions of the colonies entirely, to overthrow their existing Parliaments and their existing local independence, would be an impossible task. Nor, if possible, is it clear that it would be desirable; for unification has its disadvantages as well as its advantages. The immense areas of the different colonies, and their climatic and industrial conditions, make the preservation of their individuality highly important; whilst they also afford a strong argument against entrusting unlimited powers to a central government which, in the nature of things, cannot have complete knowledge of, nor complete sympathy with, all the different local requirements of the different colonies.

Much that Sir George Dibbs said about the omissions of the Commonwealth Bill and the desirableness of federating the railways and the debts, had a great deal of force. Still, this was criticism which did not involve the federal principle of the Bill, but merely the extent of federal control. The shortcomings which he mentioned were curable without any departure from the federal principle, and have indeed for the most part been cured by the subsequent elaboration of the Bill.

One serious blemish of the Dibbs scheme was that it deliberately contemplated dividing Australia into two sections—the large States and the small States—and denging to the latter any voice in the form of the union. New South Wales and Victoria were to frame the Constitution, and the other colonies were to accept the terms dictated, or stay outside. The impossibility of getting them willingly to consent to practical annexation was apparent; but whether-if the initial difficulty of amalgamating the two large colonies had been surmounted —the others could ever have been forced in, is highly doubtful. The irritation which such an attempt would have caused would have been, to say the least of it, an unfavourable auspice for union.

The unification idea has undoubtedly had some influence on the structure of the Constitution as it stands to-day ; but not enough to satisfy the extreme unificationists, whose weight, curiously enough, has chiefly been thrown into the anti-federal scale. Sir George Dibbs' scheme has been more or less prominent, throughout the whole history of the movement, as a counterblast to the panegyrists of the Federal Constitution. It has afforded an opportunity to assert that the federalists are only half and half unionists—are in fact the "real provincialists ”—and that the real unionists are those who preach an impracticable unification. But it has never been an active mission on its own account and for its own sake.

The Red MINISTRY.-On 2nd August, 1894, after a general election, the Dibbs Government resigned, and next day the Reid Administration came into office. Mr. Reid immediately placed Federation on his programme, and in his manifesto to the electors of King Division declared that his Government would “lose no time in restoring the subject Australian Federation to its rightful position of commanding importance and urgency.” He soon announced that he was in favour of a new Convention elected by the people of all the colonies, and he communicated with the other Premiers with a view to a preliminary conference. Federation, however, did not occupy the first place in the list. Matters of local legislation, and particularly the question with which the Ministerial party were most closely associated—the repeal of the Dibbs duties and the substitution of a purely freetrade tariff, with land and income taxes—took precedence. On 12th November the Premier was waited upon by a deputation from the Federation League, which placed before him Dr. Quick's scheme and the League's report upon it. He received them favourably, and declared himself deeply impressed with the merits of the two schemes; but said that as the procedure to be adopted was to be discussed with his brother Premiers, and must be the result of joint deliberations, he could not at that stage commit himself to a definite course.

Next day Sir Henry Parkes moved in the Assembly the following resolution :—“That in view of the rapid growth of Australia in the elements of national life, and the number of questions arising out of that growth which can only be dealt with adequately by a national Legislature, it is in the highest sense desirable that Parliament, without loss of time, should resume the consideration of the Federation of these colonies under one national Government.” He emphasized the fact that this motion had no relation to any party, or to any personal feeling—though he hinted that there was somebody of whom he strongly disapproved. In a dignified and statesmanlike speech he urged the importance of prompt action, but oracularly refrained from any definite proposal. He deprecated, however, throwing aside the Convention of 1891, and starting afresh with any less representative body; and he insisted that every step must be made in concurrence with all the other colonies-words which excluded the Dibbs scheme, but which left his attitude with regard to the Enabling Bill process in doubt. Mr. Reid, in reply, reiterated the views he had expressed to the deputation. The debate disclosed little opposition, but not very much enthusiasm ; speakers from the labour party especially maintaining that other matters were more urgent. The resolution was carried, after several hours' debate, by 55 votes to 10—the noes mostly consisting of labour members.

THE PREMIERS' CONFERENCE.—The Conference of Premiers met at Hobart, on 29th January, 1895, the Premiers present being Mr. Reid (New South Wales), Mr. (afterwards Sir George Turner (Victoria), Mr. (afterwards Sir) Hugh M. Nelson (Queensland), Mr. C. C. Kingston (South Australia), Sir Edward Braddon (Tasmania), and Sir John Forrest (Western Australia). The following resolutions, submitted by Mr. Reid, were carried :(1.) That this Conference regards Federation as the great and

pressing question of Australasian politics. (2.) That a Convention, consisting of ten representatives from

each colony, directly chosen by the electors, be charged

with the duty of framing a Federal Constitution. (3.) That

he Constitution so frar submitted to the electors for acceptance or rejection by a direct vote.

or

(4.) That such Constitution, if accepted by the electors of three

more colonies, be transmitted to the Queen by an Address from the Parliaments of those colonies praying

for the necessary legislative enactment. (5.) That a Bill be submitted to the Parliament of each colony

for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing resolutions. (6.) That Messrs. Turner and Kingston be requested to prepare a

draft Bill for the consideration of this Conference. Except for Mr. Nelson and Sir John Forrest, these resolutions were carried unanimously. Mr. Nelson agreed to everything except the proposal that the Constitution should be submitted for the approval of the electors of each colony; he thought that the approval of the colonies “should be obtained in such manner as each colony may prescribe in the Act authorizing such Convention." Sir John Forrest appended the following statement:-“While agreeing that Federation is the great and pressing question of Australasian politics, I am opposed to the procedure proposed to be adopted, and I am of opinion (1) that the draft Commonwealth Bill of 1891 should be first considered by the Parliaments of the respective colonies; (2) that any amendments made by the several Parliaments should be referred to a second Convention to be appointed by the several Parliaments after a general election, and that the Bill, as approved by this second Convention, be final, and be submitted for the necessary Imperial legislation.

Mr. Kingston would have preferred to begin with an Imperial Federal Enabling Act which would enable the colonies, without further Imperial legislation, to adopt any Constitution framed as above, subject only to the Royal assent. He did not, however, think that this view ought to prevent South Australia's co-operation in the scheme proposed.

On 6th February the draft Bill prepared by Mr. Turner and Mr. Kingston was “considered, amended, and agreed to as the draft of a type of Bill suitable for giving effect to the resolutions of the Conference.” Mr. Reid intimated that “so soon as practicable after the reassembling of the New South Wales Parliament his Government would introduce a measure providing for the chief objects of the Bill as defined in the draft. Messrs. Turner, Kingston, Nelson, and Sir Edward Braddon intimated that as soon as New South Wales had passed the Bill they would follow suit-Mr. Nelson, however, reserving the right to dispense with the direct reference to the electors. Sir John Forrest was not present, and was not committed in any way.

The draft Bill framed by the Conference provided in detail for the procedure outlined by the resolutions; and it embodied one very important amplification of them. It provided that the Convention, after framing a draft Constitution, should adjourn for a period of not less than 30 and not more than 60 days; and that it should then reassemble, reconsider the Constitution with any amendments that inight be proposed, and finally adopt it with any amendments that might be agreed to. This provision obviated the objections which the Sydney league had made to Dr. Quick's scheme. It gave time for reflection and reconsideration; it gave an opportunity for the several

a

colonies, through their legislatures or otherwise, to formulate their criticisms and objections; and it thus ensured a more thorough threshing out of all questions of conflicting interest. The Premiers' plan thus followed in the main the outlines of Dr. Quick’s proposal.

The merits of this scheme were obvious and notable. It avoided all the great defects of the process of 1891. It secured popular interest, by providing that the members of the Convention should be elected by the people themselves, and that the Constitution should be submitted to the people themselves for acceptance. It conciliated the Parliaments by giving them a voice in initiating the process, a voice in criticizing the Constitution before its completion, and a voice in requesting the enactment of the Constitution after acceptance. In other words, whilst necessarily assigning to a single body, representative of all the colonies, the task of framing the Constitution in the first instance and finally revising it, it ensured that both the peoples and the Parliaments of the several colonies should be consulted at every stage-in initiation, in deliberation, and in adoption. And lastly, by making statutory provision in advance for every step of the process, it ensured that the matter once begun should be brought to an issue. No fuller security could have been given that the Constitution would be based upon the will of the people and of the people's representatives.

THE ENABLING ACTS.—There was not even yet an end of all delays. The fiscal legislation of the Reid Government involved a dispute between the Houses, a dissolution, and a general election. In December, 1895, however, the new policy was carried into effect, and Acts imposing taxes on the unimproved value of land and upon incomes were passed, as well as a Customs Duties Act, which repealed the Dibbs duties of 1891, and substituted an extremely freetrade tariff. This fiscal system had afterwards an important bearing on the criticisms directed against the financial provisions of the Federal Constitution.

Meanwhile in October an Enabling Bill had been introduced, following for the most part the lines of the Premiers' draft Bill. The only alteration of importance was that the interval between the two sittings of the Convention was increased to “not less than 60 and not more than 120 days," with the object of allowing ample time for Parliamentary discussion of the Constitution. On the motion to introduce the Bill, Mr. Henry Copeland moved an amendment to the effect that the proper basis for advancing the federal movement was the consideration of the Commonwealth Bill of 1891 by means of the procedure laid down by the Convention.

This proposal however received little support, and was defeated on division by 59 votes to 7. On the second reading, Mr. McMillan opposed the principle of a Convention elected by the people, arguing that the selection of a suitable combination of trained men would be better performed by Parliament; and he moved an amendment to refer the question to a Select Committee. This also was defeated, and the second reading was carried on division by 62 votes to 5.

In Committee, an amendment was moved by Mr. A. B. Pidding. ton to provide for the selection of the representatives by a college of

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