Queen Victoria signed the Australian Constitution Act in July 1900. So why weren't we officially Australia then? What did the proclamation do?
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, 1900: Original Public Record Copy (1900).
Parliament House Art Collection, Art Services Parliament House
This image shows the front page of the original public record copy of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. There is a a red ribbon tied in a bow on the left hand side of the document. The paper looks faded from age.
Permission for publication must be sought from Parliament House Art Collection. Contact DPS Art Services, phone: 02 62775034 or 02 62775123
You are right! Queen Victoria did sign the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) into law on 9 July 1900. However, covering clause 3 of the Australian Constitution says the date when the Act would commence—when the Commonwealth of Australia would come into being—would be decided by Proclamation by the Queen. This Proclamation stated the Act would come into effect on 1 January 1901.
Sometimes, a law will create a big change, such as the creation of a new country! Preparations need to be made, new institutions set up and people told about the change. To ensure there is time to make all the changes, some laws have written into them a future start date. This date is either specified (the Commencement Date) or the date is decided later. The Governor-General still makes Proclamations about the commencement of some laws after they are given the Royal Assent.