Souter, Gavin. (2001). Lion and kangaroo : the initiation of Australia. Melbourne : Text Publishing
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.
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 card.
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 :
- Official record of the debates of the Australasian Federal Convention, second session, Sydney, 2nd to 24th September, 1897
- Official record of the debates of the Australasian Federal Convention, third session, Melbourne, 20th January to 17th March, 1898
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.
- The Australian constitution: a documentary history / John M Williams
Call number: RFq 342.94029 W724
- The constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia annotated / Lumb and Moens (8th edition)
Call number: RF 342.94023 M693
- Federation: the guide to records / compiled by S. G foster, Susan Marsden and Roslyn Russell
Call number: RF 320.994032 F293
- The founding documents of The Commonwealth of Australia / David Eastman (1994) Copies of original documents involved in the process of creating the commonwealth of Australia
Call number: RFq 342.94029 E13
Useful titles for background research into Federation and the Australian Constitution include:
- The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth / John Quick and Robert Garran
- The Centenary companion to Australian Federation / Helen Irving
- The constitution of a federal commonwealth: the making and meaning of the Australian constitution / Nicholas Aroney
- Lion and kangaroo: the initiation of Australia / Gavin Souter
- To constitute a nation: a cultural history of Australia's constitution / Helen Irving
Australasian Federation Conference. (1890). Official record of the proceedings and debates of the Australasian Federation Conference, 1890, held in the Parliament House, Melbourne. Melbourne : Government Printer