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Our Town - Part Three

Sunday, October 04, 2009
Brisbane, seen from the man-made beach at the Southbank Parklands.
Australia achieved federation on the 1st January 1901, six colonies joining to form a constitutional monarchy and end their colonial status.

Opening of the first Australian Parliament, 1901.
Queenslanders were now Australians.

Brisbane was at this time the fastest-growing state, continuing its emergence but still was of lesser overall import to the new nation than its southern big brother and sister. Sydney and Melbourne, whose bulwark populations dwarfed that of Brisbane, held more international recognition, but Queensland's role would continue to grow.

Police and special constables in Market Square (now King George Square), 1912.
Trade and commerce were flourishing, but Queensland (and Australian) labour was about to have its say. In 1912 tramway employees were fired for wearing union badges. They marched to the Brisbane trades hall, where 10,000 protesters joined them.

Forty-three trade unions joined them and Brisbane had its (and Australia's) first general strike, lasting five weeks. When it spread to the railways the Queensland state government became more concerned and tried to put more uniforms on the situation, even calling for federal military assistance, which was denied.

A federal judge ruled in the tramway strikers' favour.
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