Australia became a nation when the six self-governing colonies, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, united on the 1st of January 1901. Before Federation, the colonies were politically separate, with their own laws and parliaments. After federation, Australia was no longer six self-governing colonies, but a nation with its own constitution and government. During the long political process that led to federation, a stronger sense of Australian nationalism (devotion to one's country) developed.
As early as 1842, there had been many plans for creating a General Assembly of Australia where Governments could discuss matters that affected every colony. In 1846, Governor Fitzroy sent a New South Wales proposal for a federal scheme to the British authorities. The British Colonial Secretary, Earl Grey, immediately followed with his own suggestion for a General Assembly of the colonies. Each colony guarded its own power and wealth, and the smaller colonies were worried that the larger colonies might use a General Assembly to rule them.
Over the next ten years, many Parliamentary committees, emerged in the colonies to look into federation. In 1867, at an intercolonial conference, Henry Parkes suggested that there should be a 'Federal Council', a type of incomplete federal arrangement where the colonies could agree to pass certain uniform laws. In 1870 Victorian barrister Charles Gavan Duffy appointed a Royal commission to look into Federation.
By 1880, Henry Parkes was premier of New South Wales and at another intercolonial conference, he again proposed a Federal Council. Later that year another intercolonial conference was held to discuss Australian strategies for the South Pacific. At this conference it was decided that there should be a Federal Council. The Council was formally created in 1885. It had the power to make common legislation (law) in a range of matters.