Most proposals are suggesting an Aboriginal state which would resemble the Inuit province of Nunavut (which was recently created in Canada). Others suggest annexing New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, or even Fiji as a new state.
Chapter VI of the Constitution of Australia allows for the establishment or admission of new states to the Federation. It may also increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of the a state, form new states by separating territory from an existing state, or join two states or parts of states, but in each case it must have the approval of the parliaments of the states in question. .
There were proposals for new colonies in the 19th century that did not come about. North Australia was briefly a colony between February and December 1846. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society published Considerations on the Political Geography and Geographical Nomenclature of Australia in 1838, in which the following divisions were proposed:
These proposed states were geometric divisions of the continent, and did not take into account soil fertility, aridity or population. This meant that central and western Australia were divided into several states, despite their low populations both then and now.
There was also a proposal in 1857 shown here for the "Seven United Provinces of Eastern Australia" with separate provinces of Flinders Land, Leichardt's Land (taken from the name of Ludwig Leichhardt) and Cook's Land in modern day Queensland (also named from James Cook).
Proposed in the late 19th century/early 20th, the state of Auralia (meaning "land of gold") would have comprised the Goldfields, the western portion of the Nullarbor Plain and the port town of Esperance. Its capital would have been Kalgoorlie However, the population in Goldfields-Esperance is currently lower than that of the Northern Territory, and there is not much evidence of support, although the idea of a state around Kalgoorlie has been revived
In 1927 the Northern Territory administrated devoluted authority for the governing of the southern portion of the territory known as Central Australia, with power vested in an administrator resident in Alice Springs. The arrangement was discontinued in 1931.
Also known as the Illawarra Territory, this proposed new state would consist of the Illawarra region centred around Wollongong on the New South Wales south coast. Originally this idea arose after disagreements between local landowners and migrants from Sydney in the mid 1800's. However the idea has continued in various incarnations ever since with most movements proposing the states capital be situated in "Illawarra City", or the amalgamation of the Shellharbour and Kiama local government areas.
This proposed state takes in the northern part of New South Wales from Taree to the Queensland Border , mainly in the north east, and excluding most of north west NSW.
The people of northern North Queensland, sometimes called "Far North Queensland" or "Capricornia", have long held views and self-identification distinct from that of the southern parts of the state. Proposals for the political separation of North Queensland, comprising mainly the Cape York Peninsula, have been forwarded from time to time, with mixed results. Arguably, efforts for statehood in North Queensland would be hampered by the region's small population.
The Northern Territory is the most commonly mentioned potential seventh state. In 1998, the voters of the NT rejected a statehood proposal that would have given the Territory three Senators, rather than the 12 Senators held by the other states, although the name "Northern Territory" would have been retained. This ABC Lateline interview gives much insight into both sides of the debate in 1998. With statehood rejected, it is likely that the Northern Territory will remain a territory for the near future, though former Chief Minister Clare Martin and the majority of Territorians are said to be in favour of statehood. The main argument against statehood has been the NT's relatively low population.
An alternative name for the new state would be North Australia, which would be shared by two historic regions.
Riverina is also a proposed state , in the River Murray region, on the border between New South Wales and Victoria. The Division of Riverina is currently a smaller area than traditional Riverina, which would include the Division of Farrer. Along with the ACT, it is one of the few landlocked proposed states.
The ACT has a small number of vocal statehood supporters, who believe the ACT, with a population only slightly less than that of Tasmania, is under-represented in the Australian Parliament. This movement may be likened to supporters of statehood for the District of Columbia in the United States, though it is much smaller and no prominent political figures have given it their support. The wording of s.125 of the Australian Constitution suggests that the ACT must remain a territory and cannot become a state.
There are also supporters of an Aboriginal state, along the lines of the recently created Nunavut in Canada Agence France Presse (21/8/98) claims Australia blocked a United Nations resolution calling for the self-determination of peoples, because it would have bolstered support for an Aboriginal state within Australia. Amongst those supporting such a state are the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
A number of Australians, and a smaller number of New Zealanders, have advocated union between the two countries. As ties have grown closer, and proposals made for a customs union, currency union and even a joint defence force, some have suggested New Zealand should become a state of the Commonwealth. This is unlikely to occur, as New Zealanders would be reluctant to give up their status as a sovereign nation. In any case, New Zealand and Australia enjoy close economic and political relations, mainly by way of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement signed in 1983 and the Closer Defence Relations agreement signed in 1990. In 1989, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir Geoffrey Palmer said that New Zealand had "...gained most of the advantages of being a state of Australia without becoming one". The two countries, along with the USA, are in ANZUS, but New Zealand's opposition to nuclear weapons has weakened this treaty.
New Zealand was one of the colonies involved in the Constitutional Conventions leading to the Federation of Australia in the late 19th Century although the New Zealand Parliament voted against joining the Commonwealth of Australia at that time. The first Constitutional Convention was held in Sydney in March 1891 to consider a draft Constitution for the proposed federation of the British colonies in Australia and New Zealand. There were 46 delegates at the Convention, chosen by the seven colonial parliaments. Among the delegates was Sir Henry Parkes, known as the "Father of Federation." The Convention approved a draft largely written by Sir Samuel Griffith, but the colonial parliaments failed to act to ratify it. Section 6 of the preamble to the Constitution of Australia Act names New Zealand as one of the colonies which could have been admitted to the Commonwealth of Australia, had New Zealand ratified the Australian Constitution by 1 January 1901.
In December 2006, an Australian Federal Parliamentary Committee recommended that Australia and New Zealand pursue a full union, or at least adopt a common ANZ currency and more common markets. The Committee found that "while Australia and New Zealand are of course two sovereign nations, it seems ... that the strong ties between the two countries - the economic, cultural, migration, defence, governmental and people-to-people linkages - suggest that an even closer relationship, including the possibility of union, is both desirable and realistic." This was despite the Australian and New Zealand Treasurers Peter Costello and Michael Cullen saying that a common currency was "not on the agenda.
One of the proposals suggest that New Zealand's North Island and South Island could become separate states in the Commonwealth, which would provide New Zealand interests with a greater say. South Island also has a small independence movement.
Papua New Guinea is the physically closest of any country to geographically remote Australia, with some of the Torres Strait Islands just off the main island of the country. In 1953, the editor of the conservative Quadrant magazine, Professor James McAuley, wrote that the territory would be "a coconut republic which would do little good for itself", and advocated its "perpetual union" with Australia, with equal citizenship rights. ., but this was rejected by the Australian government which instead granted the territory self-government, and full independence in 1975.
During the process of Portuguese decolonisation in East Timor in 1974, a political party was formed called ADITLA Associação Democrática para a Integração de Timor Leste na Austrália or Democratic Association for the Integration of East Timor into Australia, by local businessman Henrique Pereira. It found some support from the ethnic Chinese community, fearful of independence or integration with Indonesia, but was disbanded when the Australian government rejected the idea in 1975.
The Republic of the Fiji Islands is quoted as being a proposed state for Australia. A former British colony, Fiji is native in English and is very a relative region of Australia to begin with. Due to the 2006 Fijian coup d'état, it is not very likely that Fiji could become annexed any time soon.
In addition to the above, Bryan Pape, National Party official and senior lecturer in law at the University of New England has suggested further subdivision of Victoria and the following states, resulting in possibly as many as twenty Australian states: