The vote

Federation referendum

Western Australians went to the polls on 31 July 1900 to vote on whether the colony should federate with the five other Australian colonies. For the first time in the colony's history women over the age of twenty one were able to participate in the democratic process. As in many of the Australian colonies, Aboriginal people and non-Europeans were excluded from voting on the grounds of race.

With 96,065 electors on the roll, a total of 44,800 voted in favour of Federation, with just 19,691 opposed. Voting was not compulsory and nearly a third of the electorate did not cast a ballot, however the two to one margin represented a resounding victory for the 'Yes' campaign. The goldfields returned the strongest vote in favour of Federation of more than twenty to one. Only in the conservative, more established agricultural districts of the western coast did the 'No' vote narrowly prevail.

Focus Questions

Key words

Suffragette

Referendum

Poll

Conservative

Elector

Margin

Further reading

Australian Electoral Commission - The Referendums 1890-1900

Museum of Australian Democracy - What were the results of the WA referendum?

Exit the Geebung party

Waiting for election results, Kalgoorlie

Vote yes for Federation

The West Australian results board and some of the federal leaders

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