Lion and kangaroo : the initiation of Australia

Souter, Gavin, Lion and kangaroo : the initiation of Australia,


The Australian constitution is the key legal document upon which the Commonwealth of Australia is founded.

It was written by Australians,  approved by voters at a referendum in 1899 and finally passed as an Act by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1900. 

The original Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) can be found online at the Documenting a Democracy website.  The original copy was presented to Australia in 1990 by the British government and is held at the National Archives of Australia in Canberra.

Souvenir of the federation of Australia, 1st January, 1901

Whitehead Melbourne, Souvenir of the federation of Australia, 1st January, 1901, ​​​​​​​nla.obj-90660157

The Australian and overseas printed collections at the National Library of Australia contain substantial material which can support research into Federation in Australia. Use the online catalogue to find and retrieve material using your Library login.

Constitutional conventions

Some of the most significant documents arising from the movement for Federation are those resulting from the Australasian Federation Conference of 1890 and the Australasian Federal Conventions of 1891 and 1897/8.

These documents have been digitised by the Library and may be viewed via the catalogue :

Alternative online copies are also available via:

In our Reference collection

You can find the following useful resources in our Main Reading Room.  No call slip is required.

Key titles

Useful titles for background research into Federation and the Australian Constitution include:

Official record of the proceedings and debates of the Australasian Federation Conference, 1890

Australasian Federation Conference. Official record of the proceedings and debates of the Australasian Federation Conference, 1890, held in the Parliament House, Melbourne, 1890, nla.obj-226134849


Australia Federation posters, 1901

Australia Federation posters, 1901, nla.obj-136366161

Benefits of Federation

Moule, John & Commonwealth League, Benefits of federation, 1898, nla.obj-99621859

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