Corowa Conference

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The Corowa Conference was a political meeting held in the New South Wales border town of Corowa in 1893 to discuss a proposed federation of the Australian colonies.

As a border town, Corowa was required to pay customs duties on items crossing the Victorian-New South Wales border from 1873. It was due to these customs duties that local residents became advocates for federation. Local support for federation also appears to have been spurred by the idea that a new federation would need a federal capital in the border districts. Subsequently Corowa residents lodged a claim for federal city status.[1]


Because of the strong local support of federation, Corowa became the backdrop to many federation meetings and speeches. The Australian Natives' Association played a large part in federation and it comes as no surprise that local support for federation was evident in the fact that the first Australian Natives' Association branch in New South Wales was founded in Corowa. In December 1892 Edmund Barton an advocate of federation and Australia's first prime minister visited Corowa to urge consideration of the convention bill up before the New South Wales Parliament. He also supported the idea of local federation leagues. The first of these leagues was founded in Albury and Corowa. It was then picked up in other Murray River towns. The eventually all banded together and formed the Border Federation League. Several months later William Drummond of the Berrigan branch of Federation League proposed the idea of a conference to revive flagging interest in federation.[1]

The Conference[edit]

The conference was set for 31 House because the conference coincided with the Corowa agricultural show and there was no other suitable venues available. The conference was attended by 74 delegates from federation leagues on both sides of the border. Women were permitted to attend but were not allowed to speak. Dan Egan, of the Bendigo branch of the Australian Natives' Association wrote a resolution to the federation dilemma. This resolution, presented by Dr. John Quick, proposed that each of the Australian colonial parliaments should enact legislation providing for the election of representatives to a federal convention where they should consider and adopt a bill for a federal Constitution. This was overwhelmingly passed.