Modern Australia began as a British prison settlement in 1788 and grew from a group of colonies into independent nationhood without internal upheavals or revolutions. This collection of landmark documents charts the evolution of Australia as one of the world’s most stable and long-lived democracies. It was the first country in the world to be created as a result of a free vote of its people, and the first country to have its birth recorded by a movie camera.
The documents in this collection constitute the most significant legal instruments effecting major constitutional change in Australia over the 20th century. In addition the film records the moment of the nation’s inauguration and the accompanying festivities.
The documents forming this collection illustrate that the Australian nation is not a static but a constantly evolving entity and their significance lies in their ability to achieve this. Most of the documents are original legal instruments, and include legislation, commissions, letters
patent, proclamations, petitions and legal judgments. Together they are significant for their ability to demonstrate how legal documents can shape the lives of a people and the destiny of a continent.