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Memento : Issue 39
2 NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF AUSTRALIA A window onto our constitutional history Professor Helen Irving takes a closer look at the colourful history behind the Constitution. Constitution Day gives Australians an opportunity to learn more about, and reflect on, the processes that led to the creation of the Australian Commonwealth through the union of six self-governing colonies in 1901. Australia's enduring history of democracy is the product of those processes; the institutions of self-government under which we live today are inscribed in the Constitution's provisions. Its preamble refers to the agreement of the people of the colonies 'to unite in one indissoluble federal Commonwealth.' These words are significant. They reflect the history and the aspirations of those who made and voted for the Constitution. The Constitution creates a national 'Commonwealth', a parliamentary democracy, for the benefit of all the people. The Constitution is also 'federal'. It protects the continued existence and operation of the States. The national character of the Commonwealth is embodied in the House of Representatives; the federal character in the Senate. Kirkland Photography When Queen Victoria gave royal assent to our Constitution on 9 July 1900, the nation of Australia was created. Each year, the National Archives celebrates 9 July as Constitution Day.