Australia History: From Its Origins to Independence
HISTORY: FROM ITS ORIGINS TO INDEPENDENCE
The colonization of Australia began in 1788 when the British, having lost the American colonies, transformed the territories occupied by J. Cook in the name of the King of England into places of deportation. In January 1788, more than 700 convicts (about 500 men and 200 women) evacuated from British jails landed in Port Jackson (the original nucleus of today’s Sydney). In the following years, other penal establishments were established in Port Phillip near present-day Melbourne (1803), in Hobart in the Land of Van Diemen, future Tasmania (1804-06), and in Moreton Bay, future Brisbane (1824). The British territories at that time included, according to the instructions given to Captain A. Phillip, commander of the expedition, the continental lands included on the coast between Cape York and Cape South in the Land of Van Diemen (it was then believed that this island was united with Australia, a country located in Oceania listed on philosophynearby); in the interior the boundary was fixed along the 135º of longitude E; in 1826 the whole continent was considered as subject to English sovereignty. A. Phillip, appointed governor (January 1788-December 1792), tried from the beginning to prevent Australia from becoming a penal colony: he had brought free settlers from their homeland, had assigned land to civilian and military employees and he had established that the convicts should be assigned as workers to the settlers. In this way, however, a kind of privileged caste arose, formed by farmers and officials who gave themselves privileges and committed abuses of all kinds to the detriment of small settlers (mostly ex-convicts), so much so that the governor Lachlan Macquarie (1809-21) had to repatriate the police force almost completely. The situation began to change starting from 1821 when, following the crossing of the Azzurri mountains, made in 1813 by Lieutenant Lawson and two settlers, it was possible to exploit the vast grasslands, which stretched beyond those mountains, to create farms. of sheep merinos, imported a few years earlier by a former police captain, John MacArthur, the initiator of Australian pastoral capitalism.
Penitential colonization was gradually suppressed in New South Wales starting in 1840. In 1823 the Land of Van Diemen had been detached from New South Wales, which remained until 1853 (when it took the name of Tasmania) the only territory of deportation. Starting from 1831 the so-called systematic colonization was introduced in the Australian colonies, of which GE Wakefield had advocated two years earlier (the theory in its final form will be formulated in 1849). Starting from the observation that only 10% of the land granted for free was cultivated, Wakefield argued that the lands had to be sold at a “sufficient price”, that is not too high, so as not to discourage investments by farmers, and not too much. low, so as not to encourage speculation. This fixed price would have to vary according to place and time and the proceeds from the sale of the land would have to go to a fund to subsidize emigration from England to Australia. The Wakefield system, which instead of creating settlers had increased the number of farmers and whose application was abolished in 1849, gave a great boost to immigration so that the population of New South Wales, established in 1828 by 15,700 convicts and 21,000 free citizens, it had become in 1842 to 27,000 convicts and 102,000 free citizens. In this same period the phenomenon of squatting, for which escaped convicts, ex convicts and, to a lesser extent, free citizens went beyond the borders of the colony. They carried their herds of sheep with them and occupied the land refusing to pay a purchase or rent price. In 1846, following a conflict between the squatters and Governor G. Gipps (1838-46), who had introduced a tax on occupied lands, the government of London passed a law that made the whole of New South Wales fall into three categories of land: colonized (near cities), intermediate, internal or non-colonized; the territories used to be leased for one, eight, fifteen years respectively and, in the event of a sale, the tenant had a right of first refusal. In 1850 the British government enacted a law for the Australian colonies; at that time in addition to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (detached in 1823) there were: South Australia (1834), Western Australia (1826) and Victoria (1850); later, in 1859, Queensland was detached from New South Wales and in 1863 the vast area between the latter and the Western Australia was erected into territory and entrusted to the administration of South Australia, on which it depended until 1911 when it came under the administration of the federal government.
The law of 1850, which excluded Western Australia, provided for a legislative council for each colony, consisting of two thirds of elected members and one third of members appointed by the governor general for the whole of Australia as it was officially called. entire continent. Accepting the colonists’ request, the British government soon replaced the representative parliamentary system with that of responsible government, granted in 1855 to New South Wales, in 1856 to Victoria and Tasmania, in 1857 to South Australia, in 1859 to Queensland and finally in 1890 to Western Australia. Meanwhile, in 1851 the discovery of gold mines in Victoria and New South Wales had profoundly changed the economic, social and demographic situation of Australia and the export of gold became the main resource. This led to large imbalances (increase in the cost of living, riots of prospectors, bankruptcies) but in the long term produced, by attracting new immigrants, the absorption of the old society, mostly formed by descendants of convicts, by the new young elements., physically and morally better. A new, typically Australian society was formed, which prevented or hindered Chinese immigration. On the social level, large trade union organizations were formed, which gradually imposed, starting from the mid-nineteenth century, the 8-hour working day; on the political level, a Labor party was formed which between 1894 and 1908 had the right to vote be granted to women in all the Australian colonies. The growing activity of French and German governments and corporations in the Pacific Ocean prompted the Australian colonies to embark on the much fancied creation of a federation. After the failure of a consultative “Federal Council of Australia” (1885-89), the idea of a Canadian-type federation was the subject of debates, consultations, deliberations of Parliaments until a law of the Parliament of London created the Pacific Ocean suggested to the Australian colonies to embody the many times fancied creation of a federation. After the failure of a consultative “Federal Council of Australia” (1885-89), the idea of a Canadian-type federation was the subject of debates, consultations, deliberations of Parliaments until a law of the Parliament of London created the Pacific Ocean suggested to the Australian colonies to embody the many times fancied creation of a federation. After the failure of a consultative “Federal Council of Australia” (1885-89), the idea of a Canadian-type federation was the subject of debates, consultations, deliberations of Parliaments until a law of the Parliament of London created the Commonwealth of Australia (1 January 1901), whose capital was placed in Canberra in 1910 (officially inaugurated in 1927).