The Federation Illusion

Essay by cpatonUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, September 2008

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"The Federation Illusion"


Catherine Paton

It is an assumption acknowledged that the country of Australia achieved independence upon federation on January the 1st 1901. This statement is a miss conception viewed by all Australians. In this essay it is argued that Australia did not achieved full independence upon federation in 1901 and is still, in many ways, a colony that is politically and legally in immediate control of the United Kingdom. This paper highlights Australia's initial steps on the road from colonial status while also explaining key factors that still exist tying Australia to Britain's legal and political systems. This argumentative essay mainly focuses on the period after federation. It will ascertain conclusively that Australia did not obtain legal and political independence upon Federation in 1901, but rather is still in the gradual process today of achieving full independence.

The British flag was first raised at Sydney Cove, 26 January 1788 at the Arrival of Captain Cook accompanied by eleven ships holding 'cargo' of around 780 British convicts.

Two more convict fleets arrived in 1790 and 1791, and then the arrival of the first free settlers in 1793. From 1788 officially Australia became a penal colony. With Europeans invasion on the aboriginal community whom already lived in Australia, European's had little if any respect towards indigenous land ownership and no understanding for the indigenous customary law. From the British's perspective, customary law was not considered by the acts of colonization. Acts of colonization from the mid to late eighteenth century fell under International Law (Gare, 1999). According to the British and under international law, Australian was terra nullius, a land practically unoccupied, without settled inhabitants or settled law (Carvan, 2005). James Cookery (2002) states, under international law at the time, "terra nullius included territory occupied by 'backward...