Australia is the world’s largest island. It is the world’s only habitable continent isolated from other continents. It is the world’s largest country without land borders. It has one national government.
But it almost did not!
As the separate sovereign British colonies that occupied this marvellous land were drawn together, it was assumed by many that federation of the colonies to make the Commonwealth of Australia was a foregone conclusion.
But it was not!
There is little doubt that a nation could have been achieved with the states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. In Queensland and Western Australia strong separatist movements were more intent on pulling those colonies part than joining a federation.
Had the Queensland people not crossed the line by voting YES in their referendum it would have become a separate nation on the continent. Western Australia would most likely have followed their lead.
That Queenslanders were persuaded to make the vital vote was attributable to the untiring efforts of one man, Queensland Attorney-General Arthur Rutledge.
His vision was for one nation without international borders. His “Grand Island Continent”. This is his story.