Western Australia was a reluctant participant in the Australian Constitutional Conventions of the 1890s. The first major convention to draft a Constitution was in 1890. Economic depression in the eastern colonies and a general loss of interest after early excitement, delayed further progress. Pressure from the Australian Natives' Association and other pro-Federation organisations in Victoria and New South Wales renewed in 1896, leading to sessions of the Australasian Federal Convention in 1897 and 1898 in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Delegates from all the Australian colonies and New Zealand met to discuss Federation. Western Australia was one of the few colonies to send representatives appointed by the government rather than delegates elected by the people.
But for all of the conferences and meetings called by colonial governments to thrash out an agreement, Western Australians were reluctant to join in the creation of a new Commonwealth so soon after gaining their own representative government. The sentiments expressed by a local resident in the following extract from an 1891 letter to The West Australian sum up the feelings of the majority of colonists on the west coast throughout the 1890s.
"West Australians possess the spirit of nationalism, but when its 'cause' assumes a form involving essential alterations in the nature of the governmental institutions they have but recently acquired, it is little matter for surprise that few of them should be able to accept so heavy a demand upon the sentiment of local ambition ...
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