Statute of Westminster

Southern Dominions

Australasia 1931.1211

Statute of Westminster

From the Federation of Australia and World War I in the South Pacific to the outbreak of World War II (11 December 1931)

Historical Map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific

Over the course of the 1920s, Britain moved to give all its Dominions greater independence, culminating in 1931 when it passed the Statute of Westminster, turning the British Empire into the British Commonwealth.

Main Events

Wall Street Crash

Between opening on 24 October 1929 ("Black Thursday") and close on 29 October ("Black Tuesday"), the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped in value from 305.85 to 230.07 in the most devastating stock market crash in United States history. The crash would bring an abrupt end to the Roaring Twenties and signal the beginning of the Great Depression.

Hawke's Bay earthquake

At 10:47 am a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hits Napier, New Zealand, killing 256 people and devastating the Hawke's Bay region. There will be 525 aftershocks recorded in the following two weeks, with effects felt across much of New Zealand.

Reincorporation of Northern Territory

After less than five years of existence, North Australia and Central Australia were reincorporated into the Northern Territory.

Statute of Westminster

The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Statute of Westminster, establishing legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom. The act was effective immediately in Canada and the Union of South Africa, and was considered irrelevant by the Irish Free State. Of the remaining Dominions, Australia and New Zealand would ratify the act in the 1940s, while Newfoundland would never adopt it due to financial difficulties.

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