Australia has a great story to tell about its democracy – recent events have shown the importance of understanding and celebrating that.
Four secessionist delegates holding the proposed flag for Western Australia in 1934.
State Library of WA
WA Premier Mark McGowan’s strong stance on borders has reminded many of the long streak of separateness that has defined Western Australia throughout history.
A slide by Gordon H. Woodhouse to accompany a 1901 lecture by his father Clarence entitled ‘exploration and development of Australia’.
State Library of Victoria
Exclusion has been central to utopian ideas of Australia since before Federation. It still lingers. To progress in this climate-challenged century, Australia’s foundational wrongs must be righted.
Dan Peled/AAP Image
Australia’s island identity and attitude to border security was forged from handling pandemics since the time of federation. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way.
State Library of New South Wales/Photographer H.B. Solomons, 1887
Parkes is known as the ‘Father of Federation’. His tireless championing of a united Australia brought the colonies together and set them on a course for nationhood.
The federal government is trying to entice independent schools to open by offering them advance payments. But do they have powers beyond enticement with which they could control state schools?
Yes, there has been friction over social distancing restrictions and the Ruby Princess debacle, but our federal system of government has actually worked very well during the crisis.
Though illegal, fortune telling was only sporadically prosecuted. Here, two women set up tents at the 1913 Adelaide Children’s Hospital fete.
State Library of SA
In the early 1900s, fortune-telling provided entertainment, social connection and a job for some Australians. Its legal status made criminals of women, yet allowed others entry to the police force.
It has been compulsory to vote in Australia - unlike in most other countries - since 1924.
With world-first compulsory and preferential voting, Australia was born not on the battlefield but at the ballot box.
Successive governments have seen the Great Barrier Reef not just as a scientific wonder, but as a channel to further economic development.
The $444 million awarded to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has been criticised as a politically calculated move. But governments have been asking what the reef can do for them ever since colonial times.
Politics Podcast: Judith Brett on The Enigmatic Mr Deakin.
Judith Brett's biography, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, reveals the intense inner world of one of the most important fathers of Australian federation.
In jettisoning Alfred Deakin, the Liberals made a great mistake and showed the thinness of their historical memory.
National Library of Australia
Like Malcolm Turnbull, the three-time prime minister Alfred Deakin was sometimes accused of lacking substance, but he had core political commitments from which he never wavered.
The South Australian bank levy could illicit a response from Canberra.
AAP/ Ben Mcmahon
Given the small percentages involved, South Australia’s bank levy won’t interfere with the federal government’s levy, and would arguably be compatible with it.
Delegates to the Australasian Federation Conference, Melbourne, 1890, where being white, male and bearded was standard form.
National Library of Australia
This year is the 120th anniversary of the Australasian Federal Convention through which, with rancour, prejudices and vested interests, the Australian nation was eventually born.
The British parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act in 1900.
Museum of Australian Democracy
Australia’s Constitution is a product of foreign and domestic political influences. It has become one of the enduring aspects of Australian politics and law, for better and worse.
Choosing Cairns or Townsville as a northern Queensland capital would set off a political storm, as would new regional governments around Australia.
Federal politicians and the public like the idea of abolishing the states. But consider the likely result: a more powerful Canberra, with regional governments amounting to glorified shire councils.
Recent debates over federation reform confirm that the Turnbull government must map out a path and a plan.
Commitment to a stronger, ongoing and more bipartisan federal reform process is one of the true tests of modern political leadership.
A dysfunctional unilateralism characterises intergovernmental relations in Australia.
The reality is that intergovernmental relations are not the strong point of federal systems generally. But some do it better than others.
Without metropolitan governance that is responsive to city residents’ wishes, states are much influenced by federal priorities – that is, by the money on offer.
Representative and accountable metropolitan government is needed to lead metro-scale planning, infrastructure investment and services, and partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, meeting with state leaders today, says if we were starting from scratch we’d tax differently.
There’s no need to abandon the current tax collection system. Instead we should ensure the voting public understand where their taxes are going.