This became clear twice, once when a Tasmanian Prime Minister wanted to become governor and proposed it to the British government, only to learn that it was not possible, and again in 1975, when a term of office of the Governor of Queensland had to be extended and ministers refused to pass the information on to the Queen. That`s when Australia`s prime ministers decided it was time to cut the deck cords. When other bills were rejected by British ministers, the Australian government was too embarrassed to inform citizens of the truth about the circumstances, that it wanted to pass laws but simply could not because it had no power. In addition, issues of defence, foreign policy, immigration, trade, transport and national pride gained prominence in the colonies. The history of Australia from 1901 to 1945 begins with the federation of the six colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The young nation joined Britain during World War I, suffered the Great Depression in Australia as part of the World Great Depression and joined Britain in World War II against Nazi Germany in 1939. Imperial Japan launched air raids and submarine attacks on Australian cities during the Pacific War. Federation Conference, Melbourne, attended by all the colonies plus New Zealand. He opted for early unification under the crown and the creation of an Australasian national convention to draft a national constitution. On 6 February 1890, delegates from each of the colonial parliaments and the New Zealand Parliament met for the Conference of the Australasian Federation in Melbourne. The conference agreed that „the interests and prosperity of the Australian colonies would be served by rapid unification under the crown“. He called for a national convention – a formal meeting – to draft a constitution for a Commonwealth of Australia. Australia was an independent (and founder) member of the League of Nations.

In June 1898, referendums were held in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Australia was the first nation to submit a draft constitution to the people for approval. (Switzerland had held a plebiscite in 1874 to approve constitutional amendments.) In a landmark speech in December 1941, Prime Minister John Curtin called on the United States for its support, declaring Australia free from „traditional kinship ties with Britain.“ From a foreign policy perspective, this was seen as a watershed moment: Australia expressed to the world its desire to pursue an independent foreign policy and replace Britain with America. This change in foreign policy led to the adoption of the Statute of Westminster in 1942. This completed the transition to de facto self-government that Australia uses today. The recruitment of a volunteer military force for service at home and abroad was announced, the 2nd Australian Imperial Force and a citizen militia organized for local defence. Alarmed by Britain`s failure to strengthen defences in Singapore, Menzies was cautious about sending troops to Europe. By the end of June 1940, France, Norway and the Netherlands had fallen to Nazi Germany and Britain was alone with its dominions. Menzies called for „all-out war,“ an expansion of federal powers, and the introduction of conscription. Menzie`s minority government had only two independents after the 1940 election.

Back to the present of Brexit. While acknowledging that these are two distinct contextual scenarios, the history of Australia`s independence suggests that de jure power to formulate independent (foreign) policy does not necessarily guarantee that it will be exercised immediately. Britain has proactively envisioned a revived foreign policy and explored post-Brexit trade deals. However, if you leave a political union after decades, it may take some time to adjust the policy, in addition to the various other national issues you face. Therefore, we should not be surprised if independence is achieved gradually. Following a Supreme Court decision, the Commonwealth was given the power to control a substantial portion of Australia`s trade when it was operated by corporations. Australia sent several thousand soldiers to fight for Britain during the First World War between 1914 and 1918. Thousands of people lost their lives in Gallipoli, on the Turkish coast and many more in France. Australian victories and losses on the battlefields of the First World War contributed significantly to Australia`s national identity. By the end of the war, more than 60,000 Australians had died in the conflict and 160,000 had been wounded, a high proportion of the 330,000 who had fought overseas. [28] However, such an idea is a common misconception – especially when it comes to foreign policy.

It was only much later, and through gradual changes in the law, that Australia became autonomous in its foreign policy. While Australia became nominally independent in 1901, London retained control of key legislative powers, greatly influencing Australian foreign policy.