Until 1823, the Colony of New South Wales was a penal colony; there were just convicts, marines and the wives of the marines. However, in 1823, the New South Wales Act 1823 (UK) authorised the establishment of a Legislative Council and Supreme Court in New South Wales, and also established that Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) become a separate Colony. This Act is now seen as a first step towards a 'responsible' Parliament in Australia.
In spite of the problems the colony grew, and the Port Jackson settlement is now the site of Australia's largest city - Sydney. The name 'Australia' was first suggested by Matthew Flinders and supported by Governor Macquarie (1810-1821). At a meeting in 1899, the Premiers of the other Colonies agreed to locate the new federal capital of Australia in New South Wales, and added this section to the Australian Constitution. In 1909, the State of New South Wales surrended a portion of this territory to the Commonwealth of Australia, the site of present day Canberra.
While the penal aspect of transportation cannot be ignored, it should not be viewed as the only driving force behind Britain's transportation policies. Convict labour was used to help found a number of British colonies including Barbados, Jamaica, Maryland, Virginia and Singapore. Between 1607 and 1939 Britain transported approximately 400,000 people to all parts of the globe, 162,000 of which came to Australia.
When the last shipment of convicts disembarked in Western Australia in 1868 (see below), the total number of transported convicts stood at around 162,000 men and women. They were transported here on 806 ships.
While the vast majority of the convicts to Australia were English (70%), Irish (24%), or Scottish (5%), the convict population, mirroring the nation it was to help build, had a distinct multicultural flavour.
There were also Maoris, Chinese from Hong Kong and slaves from the Caribbean. Australia's first bushranger - John Caesar - sentenced at Maidstone, Kent in 1785 was born in the West Indies.more
So only 162,000 convicts of 400,000 were sent to Australia, less than were sent to the Americas.