Publication Details

Melleuish, G, William Forster and the critique of democracy in colonial New South Wales, Proceedings: Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA) Conference 2005, Dunedin, New Zealand, 27 - 30 September 2005, 1-29. Original conference information available here


The introduction of what have termed 'democratic' regimes into mid nineteenth century Australia in the form of the granting of responsible government to the Australian colonies has been treated in recent times as an unproblematic process. The quasi-official version of political development in the colonies, as found in the Discovering Democracy civics education programme sponsored by the Commonwealth government and expressed in the textbook written for the programme by Dr John Hirst, is that this was the first stage on the road to 'real' democracy in Australia, the final stage of which will be the establishment of an Australian republic. As Hirst sees it, the people and their politicians embraced it as an advance on the road to freedom.