Introduction1890IsolationOne People, One Destiny?GoldConstitutional Conventions
The DebateSeparation for FederationThe DealThe VoteCommonwealth DayAftermath

Separation for Federation

Reform LeagueBy 1899 many goldfields' residents were frustrated. The refusal of the conservative Legislative Council to pass a Constitution Bill to enable a general referendum antagonised them even further. Angry with the reluctance of the Premier to support a vote on Federation or to confront the Legislative Council, and fuelled by years of resentment at the Forrest Government's treatment of t'othersiders, separatist feelings present since the mid-1890s resurfaced and gained fresh momentum.

Manifesto, 1900With backing from prominent federalists like John Kirwan, the editor of the Kalgoorlie Miner, a meeting was held in Coolgardie on 13 December 1899. Representatives from municipalities such as Kanowna, Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Coolgardie, Southern Cross and Esperance joined with delegates from the Chambers of Mines, the Federal League, the Australian Natives' Association, the Trades and Labor Council, the Australian Workers' Association, the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie Stock Exchanges, and a number of workers' associations. The delegates voted 60 to one in favour of forming a Reform League resolving
"... as all other constitutional means have been tried and failed, the only course to redress the grievances of the eastern goldfields, especially in the matter of Federation, is to take advantage of the power given under the Constitution Act of 1890, and to petition Her Majesty the Queen for separation from the rest of the colony of West Australia, for the establishment of responsible Government therein, and for becoming part of the Australian Commonwealth."
Within months the Reform League had collected a petition with tens of thousands of signatures calling for the creation of the colony of Auralia.

A similar move to separate from Western Australia was undertaken at a meeting at Albany on 28 December 1899. As one Albany correspondent put it in a letter to the Kalgoorlie Miner, "The cruelty of the present West Australian government by its centralising policy is fast accomplishing that end, to make Fremantle roadstead into a harbour, and enrich a few Swan River parasites."

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