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Moving Towards Responsible Government

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Legislative Council 1872

The Legislative Council 1872
These men were members of the partly-elected Legislative Council of Western Australia in 1872.
Courtesy Batte Library 52125P

Maternal Solicitude

'Maternal Solicitude' Bulletin, 7 February, 1888
Britain was not eager to allow the colony too much independence.
Courtesy Battye Library, WA Bulletin

In 1870, the colonists won the right to elect some members to the Legislative Council. However, the Governor could still veto the Council’s decisions and many colonists remained dissatisfied. They wanted a fully-elected parliament to run the colony’s affairs. Colonists continued to argue for self-government and, by the 1880s, the call for political change was so strong that it could not be denied.

In 1887, the Legislative Council voted in favour of a change to self-government. A new Constitution was drafted by Governor Broome and sent to London for approval.

The House of Lords supported the Constitution Bill. However, some members in the House of Commons were worried that the Bill was too conservative because it restricted voting rights to men who owned or leased property.

A special deputation from Western Australia led by Governor Broome, including Stephen Parker and Thomas Cockburn-Campbell, managed to overcome this opposition and persuaded members to support the Bill.

In 1890, the Constitution Bill was passed by the House of Commons and granted the Queen’s Assent. Western Australia’s Constitution came into legal existence.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.