The occasion was the report of Major-General Edwards on the defences of Australia, and Sir Henry addressed the other premiers on the desirability of a federal union for purposes of defence.
In 1894 an unofficial convention was held at Corowa, at which the cause of federation was strenuously advocated, but it was not until 1895 that the movement obtained new life, by reason of the proposals adopted at a meeting of premiers convened by Mr G.
Accordingly a premiers' conference was held in Melbourne at the end of January 1899, at which Queensland was for the first time represented.
A bill was presented to the British parliament which embodied and established, with such variations as had been accepted on behalf of Australia by the delegates, the constitution agreed to at the premiers' conference of 1899 and speedily became law.
The premiers programme was not well received by the Chamber, although the treasury ministers financial statement was again satisfactory.