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  ― 8 ―

Introduction

AS a member of the Australasian Federal Conferences which have resulted in Australian union, it has fallen to my lot frequently to write and speak on the subject of the Commonwealth. This little volume contains several of the articles written in London during the past year, together with speeches delivered in the South Australian Parliament, at the successive Conventions, and on public platforms, at various stages of the negotiations. No attempt has been made at a systematic treatise on a federal form of government, nor are the recorded utterances worthy to be brought into comparison with the masterpieces of eloquence delivered by many of the members of the Conventions; but a life sketch is presented of the movement in its progressive phases, dating from the proposal to establish the temporary structure known as the Federal Council up to the time when that body was superseded by the completely equipped Commonwealth.

The ponderous machinery of the Commonwealth is working into its bearings in a manner which gives promise of the efficient exercise of the important


  ― 9 ―
powers entrusted to the administration. The departments which are to be surrendered by the States are being rapidly taken over by the Federal Authority. On the 1st January the Customs Officers became transformed into Federal functionaries. At noon on March 1st the Post-Office clocks chimed themselves out of existence as State institutions. On the same date the defence forces passed under the control of the Commonwealth. On March 29th the elections for Senators and Members of the House of Representatives took place in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania, and on March 30th in Queensland and South Australia. The now fully equipped Parliament, which consists of King, Senate and House of Representatives, was opened on May 9th in Melbourne by the heir to the throne. The Federal Tariff has to be brought into existence before the 1st January 1903, and in spite of the theoretical divergence of the views of protectionist and free traders, a common ground of practical action will readily be disclosed when the formal debate on the abstract question has spent its force.

As one of the earliest fruits of union, the Formation of an Australian public opinion has already begun to make itself apparent. Ninety-five per cent. of the citizens of the Commonwealth are of British descent; and the desire to keep free from adulteration with coloured races has rapidly developed into an imperative national instinct which


  ― 10 ―
should surely challenge the sympathy of all those in the mother-country who desire to see Australia fulfil her manifest destiny by becoming, in the international arena of the Pacific, a stronghold of the most exalted traditions of the British race.

J. A. C.

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