New England (Australian region)New England is the name given to a region in the north of the state of New South Wales, Australia. New England has no defined boundaries, and the term has several possible definitions. At its narrowest, New England may be defined as the area of the New England Ranges, running south from the Queensland border to about Quirindi, and including neither the coastal regions of northern New South Wales nor the Western Slopes region west of the line Inverell-Gunnedah. A broader definition would include the region bounded on the north by the Queensland border, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Liverpool Range and on the west by the line Boggabilla-Moree-Narrabri-Coonabarabran.
The New England area was first explored by John Oxley, who crossed the southern part of the New England Range and discovered and named Port Macquarie in 1817. In 1827 Alan Cunningham travelled north up the line of the Range until he reached the Darling Downs in Queensland. The area was opened up for settlement in the 1830s, although the semi-tropical coastal areas remained undeveloped for many years.
The two traditional centres of New England are Armidale and Tamworth. Armidale is the home of the University of New England, Australia's oldest regional university. Tamworth is now best known as the centre of Australia's country music industry. Today, however, the fast-growing coastal centres of Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie are outstripping these inland centres.
The inland region contains some of Australia's richest woolgrowing areas. The coastal regions support semi-tropical agriculture such as sugarcane growing, and are also major tourist areas, particularly the far north coast towns such as Byron Bay and Murwillumbah.
New England has been the home of Australia's most persistent attempt to form a new state. Many New England people long resented being governed from Sydney, especially when, as is usually the case, there is a Labor government in New South Wales, dominated by urban interests. In the 1930s and again in the 1960s, the New England New State Movement camapigned for New England to be separated from New South Wales. The movement was closely allied with the Country Party, which could have expected to form the government of such a new state.
Chapter VI of the Australian Constitution allows new states to be formed, but only with the consent of the Parliament of the state in question. It has never been likely that the New South Wales Parliament would consent to the separation of New England.