Sunday, 17 June 2007

Proposals for new Australian States

The Constitution of Australia provides for the creation of new states and for a state to subdivide into two or more states. So far, no new states have been added to the Commonwealth since Federation in 1901.

However, a number of proposals for further states have been made in the past century.

New colony proposals

This map shows a proposal for subdivisions of Australia from 1838. Note the names "Victoria" and "Tasmania" appear, both distant from the current states of the same name.
This map shows a proposal for subdivisions of Australia from 1838. Note the names "Victoria" and "Tasmania" appear, both distant from the current states of the same name.

In addition to the above proposals, there were proposals for new colonies in the nineteenth century that did not come about. North Australia was briefly a colony between February and December 1846. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society published Considerations on the Political Geography and Geographical Nomenclature of Australia in 1838, in which the following divisions were proposed:

These proposed states were geometric divisions of the continent, and did not take into account soil fertility, aridity or population. This meant that central and western Australia were divided into several states, despite their low populations both then and now.

There was also a proposal in 1857 shown here for the "Seven United Provinces of Eastern Australia" with separate provinces of Flinders Land, Leichardt's Land and Cook's Land in modern day Queensland.

Internal (i.e. currently part of Australia)

New England

The New England region of New South Wales has had a devoted statehood movement since the 1930s. In the 1960s this movement was particularly active. The movement has historically gained strength when a Labor government, dominated by urban interests, is in power in Sydney.

Some supporters also propose a "River-Eden" state in the south of NSW [1].

North Queensland

The people of northern Queensland, sometimes called "Far North Queensland" or "Capricornia", have long held views and self-identification distinct from that of the southern parts of the state. Proposals for the political separation of North Queensland, comprised primarily of the Cape York Peninsula, have been forwarded from time to time, with mixed results. Efforts for statehood in North Queensland would be hampered by the region's small population[citation needed].

See also: North Queensland Party; Central Queensland Territorial Separation League; Proposals for a State of North Queensland

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is the most commonly mentioned potential seventh state. In 1998, the voters of the NT rejected a statehood proposal that would have given the Territory three Senators, rather than the 12 Senators held by the other states, although the name "Northern Territory" would have been retained. This ABC Lateline interview gives much insight into both sides of the debate in 1998. With statehood rejected, it is likely that the Northern Territory will remain a territory for the near future, though current Chief Minister Clare Martin and the majority of Territorians are said to be in favour of statehood. The main argument against statehood has been the NT's relatively low population.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has a small number of vocal statehood supporters, who believe the ACT, with a population only slightly less than that of Tasmania, is underrepresented in the Australian Parliament. This movement may be likened to supporters of statehood for the District of Columbia in the United States, though it is much smaller and no prominent political figures have given it their support. The wording of s.125 of the Australian Constitution suggests that the ACT must remain a territory and cannot become a state.

Aboriginal state

There are also supporters of an Aboriginal state, along the lines of the recently created Nunavut in Canada [2]. Agence France Presse (21/8/98) claims Australia blocked a United Nations resolution calling for the self-determination of peoples, because it would have bolstered support for an Aboriginal state within Australia. [3]. Amongst those supporting such a state are the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. [4]


Papua New Guinea

Prior to the independence of Papua New Guinea from Australia in 1975, there was some discussion as to the possibility of making the territory a state. This discussion was short-lived, however, with opposition to the idea being primarily a result of the vastly different cultural, economic and linguistic situation in the territory.

New Zealand

A number of Australians, and a smaller number of New Zealanders, have advocated union between the two countries. As ties have grown closer, and proposals made for a customs union, currency union and even a joint defence force, some have suggested New Zealand should become a state of the Commonwealth. This is unlikely to occur, as New Zealanders would be reluctant to give up their status as a sovereign nation. In any case, New Zealand and Australia enjoy close economic and political relations, mainly by way of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement signed in 1983 and the Closer Defence Relations agreement signed in 1990. In 1989, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir Geoffrey Palmer said that New Zealand had "...gained most of the advantages of being a state of Australia without becoming one". New Zealand was one of the colonies involved in the Constitutional Conventions leading to the Federation of Australia in the late 19th Century although the New Zealand Parliament voted against joining the Commonwealth of Australia at that time. Section 6 of the preamble to the Constitution of Australia Act names New Zealand as one of the colonies which could have been admitted to the Commonwealth of Australia, had New Zealand ratified the Australian Constitution by 1 January 1901.

In December 2006, an Australian Federal Parliamentary Committee recommended that Australia and New Zealand pursue a full union, or at least adopt a common Anzac currency and more common markets. The Committee found that "while Australia and New Zealand are of course two sovereign nations, it seems ... that the strong ties between the two countries - the economic, cultural, migration, defence, governmental and people-to-people linkages - suggest that an even closer relationship, including the possibility of union, is both desirable and realistic." This was despite the refusal of Australian and New Zealand Treasurers Peter Costello and Michael Cullen saying that a common currency was "not on the agenda."[1]

See also

External links

North Queensland

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