The Australian Founding Fathers

Prior to 1901 the continent of Australia comprised six separately governed colonies all reporting to the mother country of the United Kingdom.

Not much is taught nowadays about Australia’s ‘Founding Fathers’ (some call them ‘Federating Fathers’) or about the many meetings and constitutional conventions held over a 10-year period to debate and decide upon a new constitution for a new Australia.

The story of those wise men who met over many years to unite the six Australian colonies into one nation has been included in our website together with potted biographies of a number of them and in particular those who helped to draft the Australian Constitution.

On the right are links to a series of papers briefly outlining the lives of several of the leaders of the movement towards Federation.

Elsewhere on this website you will find a wealth of information about modern Australia since the arrival of the British in 1788.

QUESTIONS (to be answered once you have read the sub-pages of this section.

  1. The Founding Fathers listed here were a disparate group of individuals all with the aim of forming an Australia as they felt it should be formed for the greater good. Were you to have an opportunity, how would you deal with the situation of inviting them together for a meeting? Would you prefer to exclude one or more and if so who and why? Who would you sit next to each other, who would you prefer to have a word with privately beforehand, would the meeting be successful or not …? Write a few suggestions as to what you think might eventuate collectively and between its members.
  2. Of these Fathers who is the one you feel closer to as a person and why?

  3. Clark was a republican in the American meaning of the term and espoused above all else the American Constitution. Were he to have held sway, our Constitution although heavily written by him, would have been very different. Many say that the American President has the powers of a late 18th century monarch but that constitutional rigour is not always practised as it should be. How does the Australian Constitution differ from the American and what checks and balances ensure that its original intentions are always adhered to?

  4. Most Australians today would not be able to name many, if any, of these drafters of the Constitution and yet their commitment and firm beliefs helped create one of the great constitutions of the world. How would you describe those mentioned and their methods to someone who knew little if anything, what would your main point in discussing the matter be and how would you emphasise it?