Not everyone wanted federation. When it came to the crunch in 1898, the people of New South Wales rejected the draft Constitution Bill.
In 1899, in a last-minute bid to save federation, the premiers met in Melbourne to discuss more changes to the draft Constitution.
The colonies had always been concerned about the economic consequences of transferring powers to the federal government.
Many viewed the draft Constitution as very democratic for its time. Some called for even greater recognition of ‘the will of the people’. Changes were made at the 1899 premiers’ conference in response to demands from the growing labour and social welfare movements.