THE ISSUES THAT LED TO THE FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA From about 1850 – 1890 there was a strong movement for a federation of the colonies.
In about 1857, a Victorian committee stated that a'federal union' would be in the interest of all the growing colonies. However, there was not enough interest or enthusiasm for taking positive steps towards bringing the colonies together. Some people thought that the rivalry that existed between the colonies was too strong to be able to come to any agreement. Calls for greater unity grew louder as the century progressed and several reasons began to stand out as significant in the push for a federation between the colonies. Some of the reasons for federation to take place included, defense, transport, communication, the desire for white Australia and the economic advantages to be gained. Defense was raised as an issue from the 1880's.
Each colony had its own defense force and was heavily reliant on the British navy for protection. European countries were taking interest in the area and there was concern that there may be a need for a stronger and more unified defense force. Colonial government knew that it would be difficult to stop other European nations from setting up colonies.
When Germany occupied the Northern part of New Guinea, some people believed that a united Australia could have kept Germany out all together. Through a federal union of the colonies, there were economical advantages to be gained. The tariff policies of the different colonies were progressively more irritating to business people. Under a federation, these would be removed and free trade would lessen the costs of production and open up new markets. Some politicians believed that the business and government of other countries, particularly Britain, would be more willing to invest and grant loans to a united Australia rather than to individual colonies.