Who drafted the Australian Constitution

Thanks for your question Kirah and Kate! Before Federation in 1901, Australia did not exist as a nation but was a collection of 6 British colonies. When the colonies agreed to unite – federate – to form the Commonwealth of Australia, they needed a set of rules—a constitution—for how the new nation should work.

The Australian Constitution was drafted at a series of meetings attended by representatives from these colonies. Most of these representatives were members of the colonial parliaments; for example, Edmund Barton—who later became Australia’s first Prime Minister—and Henry Parkes both came from the New South Wales Parliament, Andrew Inglis Clarke was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament and Alfred Deakin came from the Victorian Parliament. After the Constitution was drafted, a referendum – a vote of the people – was held in each colony between June 1899 and July 1900 to approve the document.

A sepia-toned formal portrait of a group of men in formal attire.

Members of the Australasian Federation Convention, 1890.

National Library of Australia, AN14292110

Members of the Australasian Federation Convention, 1890.

A sepia-toned formal portrait of a group of men in formal attire.

National Library of Australia, AN14292110

Description

A sepia toned photograph of a group of men in formal attire in front of a portico of a building. Six men (including Edmund Barton, fourth from left in the top hat) are seated on chairs. Eight men stand behind. Henry Parkes is fourth from left and Alfred Deakin is sixth from left.