Is Australia Independent?

Essay by missdvsA-, April 2006

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There is no doubt that Australia did not gain independence after the proclamation of the Constitution in 1901. Some may argue that it has been obvious since following Britain into both World Wars. However Australia, through a gradual process, and after almost 100 years, has gained legal but not political independence. As long as there is a monarch of the UK, and of Australia and its states, there will always be connections. This paper will recognise the five most prominent constitutional steps in the process towards independence in five main discussions by firstly realising the absence of independence after Federation in 1901 and the factors that tie Australia and Britain together. Secondly, acknowledging the beginnings of independence after the separate signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Third, the Balfour Declaration 1926 and Statute of Westminster 1931, which was adopted in 1942, declared Australia, and the other Dominions of Britain, equal in status and increased Australia's legal independence.

The fourth discussion will look at the accomplishment of Australia's legal independence through the Australia Act 1986. Lastly this paper will examine the Republic Debate, the 'final step' to independence that failed to win the public in 1999. This step is said to be the only way to achieve political independence of Australia, and with its failure stops Australia short of reaching complete independence.

Federation and the Commonwealth of Australia

The independence of Australia began with Federation in 1901 that expressed interest as early as 1853. There were many conferences held by the colonies during the eighteen-sixties but interest declined for a time until 1891 when the movement for federation revived (Baalman, 1973). The Imperial parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act in 1900, the 'blueprints' of the Commonwealth setting out how the federation would be established. A few months...