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Federation

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Sir John Forrest
Sir John Forrest - 1st Premier of Western Australia. Image Courtesy of Battye Library.

John Forrest became a forceful advocate for WA to join the Federation but on terms that he thought would benefit the colony achieving statehood.

He wanted to steer WA down the federation road in a sturdy carriage that safeguarded its economic security. At the time he remarked: 'When the history of the federal movement in this colony is written... it will never be said of me that I deviated from the straight path of the federalist, except in the direction of trying to get fair terms.'

175th TRIVIA

Women were not entitled to vote in WA until 1899. They became eligible to stand for election to Parliament in 1920.

Indeed, his involvement in the process to form federation earned him the title of one of the founding fathers of the Commonwealth.

Premier Forrest called for a referendum on the issue on July 31, 1900 - twenty two days after the Commonwealth Constitution was given Royal Assent, and before we had voted, making WA the last colony to enter the Federation.

However, Section 3 of the Constitution allowed our late entry into the Commonwealth, though being last also meant WA is not mentioned in the preamble to the Act that establishes the Constitution.

Federal Poll July 32, 1900
Tally board showing the results of the poll that resulted in Western Australia entering the Federation.

In 1901, the last stage of the transition from colony to State was heralded by WA's entry into the federal Commonwealth as an original State.

175th TRIVIA

The foundation stone of Parliament House was laid on 31 July 1902. The building was officially opened on 28 July 1904 at a gala event, with proceedings beginning with four 12-pounder guns under the command of Major Hobbs being drawn by horses up the hill to a site in front of the Observatory from which to fire a salute. At the entrance, Council President, Sir George Shenton, presented the Governor, Sir Frederick Bedford, with a key made from Western Australian gold, and the 'House on the Hill' was opened. - ref: Brian de Garis, Self-Government and Political Parties.

A Nation at Last