Australasian Penal Company

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The Early Years

The various penal colonies of Australia were originaly ruled separately according to the customs of each of their mother countries. What they did have in common (due to the nature of the settlers) was a lack of elective representative and civil service work being performed by the local military authorities.

After the Federation of the British kingdoms, it was felt by some that the administration of the colonies should likewise be unified. A joint Ministry for Colonial Affairs was thus set up for settlements the world over but proved to be short-lived. Clashing customs, overlaping monopolies and lack of cooperation from local colonial authorities brought about the Ministry's demise within a few short years.

The kingdoms thus decided to granted a limited form of autonomy to some of its colonies. In the case of penal settlements however, it was felt that although costly, a military government should be maintained. A different suggestion was brought forward by a group of merchants who had interest in Australia (mostly as importers). Their proposal was for a chartered company to be set up (the Australasian Penal Company, "APC" thereafter) which would be majoratively and equally owned by the three British kingdoms. Its function would be to take over the supplying of the colonies, maintain its infrastructures and explore the inside of the island. In exchange, they would be granted a monopoly (ranging from 1 to 5 years) of any natural resources found therein. While the military still maintained direct control over their respective convict population, this new state of affairs meant that for the first time, a centralised authority was administrating part of Australian life.

Expansion

Armed with its monopoly, the APC took over deportation of the convicts to the colony which saw the number of deaths plummet. However, because the company was paid based on certain yearly quotas, they would often make deals with small localities to transport locals convicted of petty crime. This way, they would be able to fulfil their obligations early on and thus free up ships instead of having them hold at anchor for months until their hold were filled.

On a few occasions, the company even went as far as taking on "undesirables" from foreign governments (such as fifty Laurentians rebels and their families in 1840). Although this went against the spirit of the APC's contract, they were still logged as "transported convicts settlers" and payed for in addition to whatever the foreign government had agreed to pay.

As part of their charter, the APC was allowed to raise troops. These served on board convict ships, protected their establishments and accompanied explorers during expeditions in the island.

As the AFP was the only representative of the British crowns there, the Company became the de facto government in what became later the Great Corridor Territory. It signed treaties with some local tribes wich still have force of law to these days.

As transportation of convicts declined and stopped in the later decades of the 19th century, the APC changed its name simply to "APCorps" [ap-korp] and concentrated more on providing local services.

The Commonwealth

With the declaration of the Commonwealth, APCorps lost most of its power to the elected representative and remained only as a semi-independant utility company. Its military units were either disbanded or integrated into the newly formed Australasian Imperial Militia as provincial units.

The End of APCorps

The 1920s brought about two changes in Australasian society. First the independance of Ireland meant the creation of a new ethnicaly Irish province (Guereintia) with its own representatives. These politicans, inspired by equalitarian ideals, began a movement that lead to the second change: the end of private monopoly in public services. This resulted in the demise of APCorps within 10 years and by the begining of the 1930s, all of its infrastructure had been taken over by the commonwealth authorities or abandoned and deregulated.

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