Australian Colonies Government Act
(1850)
   Passed by the British Parliament at the initiative of the Colonial Secretary (the third) Earl Grey, this act began a process of constitutional legislation in the Australian colonies that resulted by 1853 in the effective adoption of responsible government in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania. Although the act reserved control of waste or unsettled lands to the Crown and provided for revenues from them to pay Crown appointees independently of legislative control, it also called for the addition of elected members to colonial legislative councils. In short order, the British government gave up its claim to control waste lands and the colonial legislatures elected under the terms of the Act of 1850 enacted constitutional measures of their own which had the intended effect of rendering colonial executives responsible to the elected members of colonial legislatures. As the British government had conceded in principle the desirability of local self-government, it shortly conceded the reality.
   FURTHER READING:
    Clark, C.M.L. A Short History of Australia. New York: New American Library, 1963;
    Crowley, F. K. Australias Western Third. New York: St. Martin’s, 1960;
    Robson, L. L. A Short History of Tasmania. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1985.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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