The Province of South Australia was established in 1834, when the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act (also known as the Foundation Act). The creation of South Australia was the result of a long campaign to establish a colony according to the principles of systematic colonisation, rather than convict transportation, which was forbidden. In fact, South Australia was called a province rather than a colony, to help distinguish it from other colonies that had transportation in their histories.
Under the 1834 Act, administrative power in the Colony was divided between the Governor and a Resident Commissioner, who was responsible for the survey and sale of land and for migration arrangements and funding. South Australia was to be colonised by assisted emigration, financed by land sales.
The 'Documenting Democracy' website states that the South Australia Act defined the land as 'unoccupied' and 'fit for the purposes of colonisation', thus overriding the rights of the Aboriginal inhabitants of South Australia. Although the Letters Patent of 1836 establishing the Province included a guarantee of the rights of 'any Aboriginal Natives' or their descendants to lands they 'now actually occupied or enjoyed', the Aboriginal people's property rights were ignored by the colonial administration.
The first migrants arrived near Glenelg in November 1836 and the colony was proclaimed on 28 December. In the Colony's earliest days, the Governor, Sir John Hindmarsh, held almost total executive power. The province nearly became bankrupt during an economic recession in 1840. The administration in South Australia was changed to a Governor and a Legislative Council in 1842. South Australia achieved self-government in 1857, with a new constitution and Parliament.
From 1863 until 1911, the Colony (and later the State) of South Australia had control of what was known as the Northern Territory of South Australia. The South Australian government laid a claim to the area to its north, and with no other colony seeking responsibility for it, the territory was annexed to South Australia by the British Government in 1863. The Northern Territory remained under the control of South Australia until responsibility for the territory was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia in 1911 by the British Government.
South Australian politicians strongly supported the move towards Federation, and the people voted in favour of it at referendums in 1898 and 1899. The new State of South Australia came into existence with Federation on 1 January 1901.
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09 March 2018
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01408
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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