Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/676

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328 THE BRITISH EMPIRE: — AUSTRALASIAN FEDERATION

Boomerang and Karakatta — are attached to the Australian Squadron. Under the agreement with the colonies they are not to be removed from the station in case of war. The imperial expenditure upon additional naval force for service in Australasian waters is 95,300?., the appropriations in aid are 35,000/., so that the charge upon the imperial exchequer amounts to 60,300Z. (Naval Estimates, 1898-99.)

The princi{)al ports of the seven colonies are protected by fortiti cations, and forts have been erected at King George's Sound and Thursday Island, the cost being shared by the different colonies.

Australasian Federation.

The question of the Federation of the AustraUan Colonies is by no means new. About the year 1852, a proposal was made for the establishment of a General Assembly to make laws in relation to intercolonial cpicstions. The proposition, however, sank out of sight, until, as the result of an Intercolonial Conference, the matter came before the Imperial Parliament, and a measure was passed permitting the formation of a Federal Council, to which any Colony could send delegates. The first meeting of the Federal Council was held at Hobart, in January, 1886. The Colonies represented were Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, and Fiji. South Australia sent representatives to a subsequent meeting. The Federal Council, liowever, being purely a deliberative body, failed to satisfy the advocates of Federation as an active political principle. In February, 1890, a Conference, consisting of representatives of each of the seven Colonies of Australasia, was held in Melbourne, and it was resolved that steps should be taken towards the appointment of delegates from each of the Colonies to a National Australasian Convention, empowered to consider and report upon an adequate scheme for a Federal Constitution. On Iklarch 2, 1891, the Convention met at Sydney. Resolutions approving of a Federal Constitution were passed, and a draft Bill to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia was adopted, but it failed to satisfy the several Colonies.

In January, 1895, the Premiers of five of the Colonies held a Conference at Hobart, and, as a result of their action, a Convention of representatives of all the Colonies, except Queensland, met at Adelaide in March, at Sydney in September, 1897, and at Melbourne in Feliruary, 1898. In March a Draft Bill was finall}' adopted for submission to the Colonics.

This Draft Bill provides ibr the federation of the colonies under the Crown, with the designation of the Commonwealth of Australia. The executive power is vested in a Governor-General— to be appointed by the Queen — assisted by a Federal Executive Council ; and it is provided that the seat of government shall be established in federal territory. The parliament is to consist of two houses — the Senate and the House of Representatives — both to be elected by the people on the franchise existing in the various states for the popular l»ody at the time of union — the Senate for a period of six years, and the House of Representatives for a ])eriod of three years. Every state joining the Federation at its inception is entitled to an equal representation of six members in the Senate ; and it is provided that half the number of senators shall retire every three years, but shall be e]igil)le for re-election. The number of members of the House of Representatives is to be, as near as poesible, twice the number of senators, the states to be represented in proportion to population, and it is provided that no statf