Cutting Ties to Britain

Canberra, the capital of Australia, located between Melbourne and Sydney.

Britain founded several colonies in Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. A movement to unite these colonies and achieve more self-rule from Britain then grew strong in the late 19th century, ultimately resulting in the Commonwealth of Australia being created in 1901. Thereby, Australia had become almost independent.

Most Australians agreed that the capital of the new, almost independent, union was to be located in the southeast of the Australian continent, where most Australians lived. However, they could not decide between rival cities Melbourne and Sydney. As a compromise, therefore, the city of Canberra was chosen as the capital and seat of government.

Practically independent

The government in Canberra, from its inception, oversaw anything from Australia’s important wool and beef industries to the country’s immigration policies. Britain only kept jurisdiction in a few areas, and with London gradually withdrawing, by the 1930s, Australia practically ruled itself. Still though, it was not until 1986 that the last ties to the U.K. government were formally severed.

Only the monarchy remains

The governmental independence notwithstanding, even after 1986, the ties to the British monarchy remained. Queen Elizabeth II was still Australia’s head of state, and she continues in the same capacity to this day.