Secession is a strange, sibilant, lisping sort of a word. Not easy to say after a few schooners. But you can expect to hear more of it in the months ahead. Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom – perhaps even Australia – are all, to varying degrees, embroiled in the process of national divorce.

Maybe Gina could secede all on her own. Pic: Lyndon Mechielsen (digitally altered)

Secession is the act of exiting or withdrawing from a political union – in this case a State. When a region seeks to secede from a wider union it does more than simply threaten the geographic integrity of a nation; it undermines the legitimacy of the existing constitutional structures; and as a result it casts doubt on the State’s authority.

Australia is not immune from the secessionist virus, as this headline in The West Australian shows: WA’s a big economy on its own. The article went on to note that an independent WA would be the world’s third richest country in terms of GDP per capita; it would soon over take Portugal and Ireland.

More recently, the Leader of the WA Government in the Legislative Council, Norman Moore, picked up the topic, making controversial pro-secession statements (which Premier Colin Barnett refused to support).

WA has been down this road before. In 1933 the people of WA supported an independence referendum with 68 per cent voting in favour of going it alone. Back then it was the mining areas that voted in favour of staying in the Commonwealth.

WA is far from the only region with independence on its mind. In the current geo-political environment secession is in vogue.

The UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond recently signed an agreement to hold a vote (in Scotland) on Scottish independence. Mr Cameron agreed that the UK would be bound by the result of the referendum, slated for 2014. So the Scottish nationalists began a 100 week campaign to end a 300-year union.

No doubt Mr Cameron agreed to the terms of the referendum on the basis that he does not believe he will lose. In October an Ipsos Mori poll of 1,003 Scots for the Times of London showed support for the Union at 58 per cent with the independence vote lagging at 30 per cent. But Mr Cameron will be aware that for the Nationalists this is an historic opportunity and Mr Salmond is a canny political operator. The UK press seems to agree: there is all to play for.

But Scotland does not exist in a vacuum and events in Edinburgh are being watched with increasing alarm in Madrid. On the weekend, Catalonia went to the polls in a highly anticipated election.

Of course elections are never straight forward and Catalan President Artur Mas’s pro-independence CiU party actually lost seats. But separatist parties look set to win a decisive majority in the Catalan parliament (around 70 seats in the 135 seat chamber).

The Catalan separatists, like the Scottish Nationalists, are promising a referendum on independence. This would make Barcelona a global, not just a regional capital - and possibly make FC Barcelona a genuine national team?

In truth, as Spain increasingly suffers from the fall out of the GFC a Catalan departure would be catastrophic. Catalonia makes up 6 per cent of the area of Spain, and 16 per cent of the population, but it generates 19 per cent of GDP, 25 per cent of industrial production, and 29 per cent of exports.

Perhaps just as importantly, Catalonia is not the only Spanish region with its eye on the exit door. The Basque region has long desired its own independence. The decision of the terrorist group ETA to end hostilities after four decades has resulted in a growth in support for a separatist coalition in the Basque regional parliament. Pro-independence parties now hold 48 of 75 seats and they are expected to hold some form of independence referendum.

The government in Madrid would prefer to block these secessionist tendencies.

In 2008 the Spanish government persuaded the Spanish Constitutional Court that Basque attempts to hold a “consultative referendum” were unconstitutional. In October of this year a similar Catalan proposal was also rejected by the Federal Parliament. That rejection ultimately led to Sunday’s vote which Mars has promised will be the beginning of a “consultative process” on Catalan independence.

All of this could have an impact on Scotland’s ambitions. Salmond wants an independent Scotland to remain within the European Union. But Spain is unlikely to smooth the path from UK region to EU member state.

Elsewhere in Europe Belgium struggles to maintain unity.  It took a staggering 541 days for the representatives of rival Flemish and French speaking regions to agree to form a government following the 2010 elections. The divisions in Belgium, between Flanders and Walloonia, are not just linguistic – they are increasingly cultural and political. A split is not unimaginable.

But before WA starts commissioning a national anthem they might want to reflect upon the company they keep. True, it might soon overtake Portugal and Ireland in terms of GDP but those countries are hardly in great shape.

And then there’s the example of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rica: an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Puerto Ricans are bucking the secessionist trend – recently voting overwhelmingly to join the US of A as its 51st state.

Western Australia should probably follow their example: it is better when we’re together.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.

Fergal Davis is a senior lecturer in UNSW’s Faculty of Law and is a member of the ARC Laureate Fellowship: Anti-Terror Laws and the Democratic Challenge project in the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Tim says:

      07:08am | 28/11/12

      Australia should let WA seceed.

      Then declare war and invade. Annexe them as a territory.

    • Bane says:

      07:53am | 28/11/12

      The SAS are based there and would be very loyal. Careful now.

    • Borderer says:

      08:56am | 28/11/12

      It’s sabre rattling trying to get a bigger slice of the GST, there is no motivation other than economic greed. It’s not like the people in WA are any different than people in other states, Australia hasn’t been around long enough to develop significant cultural differences.
      In regards to secession, do they really want to have the People’s army intervene to protect China’s mining interests in the region? What are they going to do to stop them? Throw shoes at them?

    • Ross says:

      09:07am | 28/11/12

      Really well thought out there. WA trains the SAS, WA has a Navy and Air Force base and once it seceeds it will then be back by China who have investments and want the natural resources.

      You can also ignore that most people from WA would be happy to shoot a few eastern staters wink

    • daniel says:

      09:49am | 28/11/12

      WA will be getting 55 cents back from every dollar of GST for 2012/2013. In 2011/2012 WA was getting 72 cents back from every dollar of GST. If the mining sector keeps performing strongly, in the next couple of years that share of GST could drop further. So there’s good reason for WA to be “sabre rattling”.

    • Tim says:

      10:08am | 28/11/12

      Good to see you too want to be invaded by the Chinese military.
      How good’s your Mandarin?

    • Tim says:

      10:19am | 28/11/12

      it’s funny that the GST receipts for current years are always mentioned now that WA is making billions out of it’s mining interests, always convieniently forgetting the decades when the other states bankrolled WA.

    • Esteban says:

      01:02pm | 28/11/12

      Tim. We have only had the GST in for 12 years so I don’t know about this “decades” business.

      The GST is still quite new and like most new systems events occur that were not anticipated and hence weaknesses arise.

      There is nothing wrong with reviewing a new system to address the issues that were not anticipated at the introduction.

      Such a situation has arisen with respect to infastructure requirements.
      I hope you don’t need an economics lesson and can understand the concept that it takes money to grow.(let me know if you require the lesson and I will oblige).

      The rapid growth of WA and the upfront infastructure uniquely related to mining expansion means that WA presently has a great need for infastructure spending that was not anticipated in the original GST models.

      The GST has to be changed to recognise the huge infastructrure requirements of WA.

      What is wrong with that?

    • East Coast Expat says:

      01:49pm | 28/11/12

      Borderer, have you spent a significant amount of time in WA? I moved here from “over east” two years ago. Trust me, they are certainly different. I think it’s the isolation…. it’s made them all slightly mad and fearful of outsiders and change. The increasing number of East Coast Expats is what makes the place bearable.

    • Pattem says:

      04:29pm | 28/11/12

      @Borderer, you suggest that: “It’s not like the people in WA are any different than people in other states, Australia hasn’t been around long enough to develop significant cultural differences”.

      Sorry, mate, I beg to differ on this point.  Perth is the Bogan capital of Australia - and cashed up one’s at that due to the mining boom.  For just one example: try to suggest that collared shirts, ties, or heaven forbid, suits, are a much more sensible way to dress than thongs, singlets and shorts, you’ll probably be told to po to the Eastern States, mate!

      You won’t find a more dressed down, inarticulare, ute-driving mob than West Australians.

      BTW the secession arguments rear their heads every few years!

    • Super D says:

      07:15am | 28/11/12

      We should pay Tasmania to secede.

    • scubasteve says:

      07:49am | 28/11/12

      good on ya tim.
      WA’s military ally ‘China’  would kick your ass back to north shore.
      Even the USA could leave the stagnate “East Australia’ behind.

    • Tim says:

      08:36am | 28/11/12

      wrong reply,

      And yeah I’m sure the WA seccession movement really want to let the Chinese military in.

      Although South Guandong province does have a nice ring to it.
      Kevin Rudd can be the puppet governor for the Chinese to placate the populace.

    • TimB says:

      08:50am | 28/11/12

      Dammit SuperD, I wanted to say that.

      They didn’t have the comments open this morning though :( .

      Slight tweak though, why not try and make some money instead? Sell Tassie to New Zealand.

    • Gordon says:

      11:59am | 28/11/12

      Hmmm, tough choice. Do we give it to NZ as-is and encourage all our Greens to move there, or do we rent it to WA to mine the bejesus out of, get some cash, but have green refugees turning up in Phillip Island.

    • bananabender56 says:

      12:21pm | 28/11/12

      Or give Tasmania to New Zealand - so much in common

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      07:53am | 28/11/12

      I think WA should secede and become an hereditary Monarchy under the direct rule of Queen Gina the First. She could appoint Alan Bond and Laurie Connell as Treasurer and Finance Minsiter respectively and build a Palace in the Pilbara that would make Buckingham Palace look like a stable. Then she could give every subject $25,000 each from the loose change in her purse and import a million or so African guest workers to do all the work for $2 a day.

      The whole place could become a huge bogan theme-park and once a year Gina could be rowed by suitably attired Africans down the Swan on her Royal Barge as she sat on a huge throne and threw gold coins to the adoring masses.

      I think it’s a really good idea.

    • jhamiltonwa says:

      09:31am | 28/11/12

      “I think WA should secede and become an hereditary Monarchy under the direct rule of Queen Gina the First. She could appoint Alan Bond and Laurie Connell as Treasurer and Finance Minsiter “

      It’s far from an attractive proposal, I admit, but it would be an improvement.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      10:45am | 28/11/12

      LOL I like it!

    • St. Michael says:

      10:50am | 28/11/12

      “Laurie Connell as Treasurer and Finance Minsiter”

      Considering he’s been pushing up daisies since before the Howard government, that might be a suboptimal appointment.

    • Pattem says:

      04:33pm | 28/11/12

      @St. Michael, will if we can dig up ex-popes, why not ex-entrepreneurs and put them in positions of power.  A dead Treasurer couldn’t do any worse than a living one!

    • Guantanamero says:

      07:53am | 28/11/12

      This continent of ours is too big for just one country. Many Western Australians feel detached from the rest of the country both economically and politically. They see the money that comes from the West being pumped into services and infrastructure that is vitally needed in their own state.
      Having lived in both the west and east coasts, the general mentality, values and approach to work are different.
      I don’t think the groundswell for secession is there yet but given time and Western Australian innovation; along with the need to pump up it’s manufacturing sector, the rift between the those who dwell on the Indian and those on the Pacific will become even greater.
      The author also forgot to mention Texas, which I think would be a better comparison to WA

    • Horizontally Fiscal says:

      08:45am | 28/11/12

      You know, one thing I never understand in all this talk from WA about money generated by the WA economy, esp in the last 15 or so years, ‘heading back east’ is that they only want to talk about the last 15 or so years and not the decades and decades previous to that where the reverse was true.

    • expat says:

      11:32am | 28/11/12

      Are their figures to support that Horizontally Fiscal?

      Mining has been strong in WA since pre federation, even iron ore has been big since the late 60’s and gold pre 1900…
      WA has had the economic means to support itself and support itself well since federation.

      If WA was to seceed in the next few years and adopt a low tax, pro investment attitude then it would become a economic powerhouse in the region.

      Unfortunately WA people are also the most anti change and development, so it is unlikely to ever happen. Although in saying that the current political environment may just be enough to create a big change.

    • Dave-o says:

      11:38am | 28/11/12

      Texas is a prime example of a state that believes its own press releases. It has a negative effect on federal finances thanks largely to decades of republican pork barrelling and the state legislature running the worlds largest experiment in the effects of farm animal interference on a population. If the people of WA strive to be like Texas I say let them be, in 40 years or so when they collapse we can annexe and set even more repressive taxation regime. As a bonus each year we’ll select 24 teenagers, release them into the Tasmanian wilderness and grant asylum to the sole survivor.

    • expat says:

      03:08pm | 28/11/12

      The link does not work?

      But fair enough if their are figures to support it, what they have been spending the excess money on is beyond me… I left WA a while ago, but it would have been nice to see it prosper.

    • KimL says:

      07:56am | 28/11/12

      Eventually the minerals will run out..what then? W.A. will be the poorest country in the world? I doubt anyone would be happy supporting them if they left in the good times and wanted back in the bad. Never mind they can have Queen Gina as head of state and get rid of parliament

    • Don says:

      08:13am | 28/11/12

      The Federal government exists for the states, not the other way around. This is a misconception that people have a lot of these days.

    • St. Michael says:

      10:48am | 28/11/12

      Well, in their defence, the people with that misconception include a fair majority of the High Court bench for the past 20 years or so.  You could hear Kingsley, Griffths and Barton rolling in their graves when the Workchoices decision came down.

    • ronny jonny says:

      08:16am | 28/11/12

      WA is a one trick pony. It’s a pretty good trick just now but it won’t last forever.

    • gobsmack says:

      08:20am | 28/11/12

      It could be good move considering most of the “boat people” land closest to WA.

      We could withdraw our navy to the east coast where it could resume its rightful role as a defence force.

      We could leave them a few patrol boats to use until they build up the heavy industries required to build their own boats and planes.

    • Expat Ozzie says:

      09:25am | 28/11/12

      gobsmack: I think you just solved most of Julia’s problems. She should implement the secession for them.

    • St. Michael says:

      09:07am | 28/11/12

      Phhbbbbbbbttttt.  There’s been secessionist talk in WA since 1901; we had to be dragged kicking and screaming into Federation as it was - it’s the reason WA isn’t mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution.  And we *did* have a successful referendum for secession earlier in the 20th century - problem being that at the time it required the consent of the UK Parliament to go through, and the bill in question has been sitting on the shelf in England gathering dust for 80-odd years.  Even regular WA folks look at the WA Secessionist Movement in the same way normal US people look at American Civil War re-enactors.  We’re not going anywhere.

    • Kika says:

      01:06pm | 28/11/12

      Same with QLD. We didn’t want to join because we wanted to continue ‘blackbirding’ which the rest of you didn’t like.

    • Esteban says:

      02:56pm | 28/11/12

      I was wondering how you would work a racism element into it KIKA.

      “look how bad and racist we are”

      I think you will find Queensland voted for the federation. It was Wa that voted against it in the first vote and had the subsequent referndum in the 30’s.

    • James1 says:

      09:09am | 28/11/12

      Interestingly, WA could have easily gone to Indonesia, except for one small decision made long ago.

      During the Napoleonic Wars, after France successfully invaded The Netherlands, Britain took possession of the Netherlands East Indies - what we now know as Indonesia.  At that stage, Western Australia was known as New Holland, and at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain considered encouraging and supporting a Dutch claim to the western end of the Australian continent, and its incorporation into the Netherlands East Indies to prevent a potentially hostile power like France taking control of it.  In the end, the British decided to reserve the right to build a colony there, which they ended up doing in the 1820s.

      If that had happened, we would share a land border with Indonesia, because Indonesia is the successor state to the Netherlands East Indies, and the generally accepted practice during decolonisation was for former colonies to become states based on colonial borders.

      So be glad, WA, that you didn’t end up as an Indonesia province, rather than a state of Australia.  On the other hand, at least you wouldn’t need a passport to holiday in Bali…

    • jerry says:

      09:18am | 28/11/12

      WA has not even scratched the surface there so much oil and gas still to be discovered. Huge amount of iron ore in the mid west, uranium etc.People in the Eastern States have no idea of the potential of WA as for not lasting forever it would be a long time before WA ran out by then I am sure they would be cashed up as long as we do not get an incompetent government like the Gillard government which is probably wish full thinking.

    • Geologist says:

      11:38am | 28/11/12

      How do you know this Jerry? Oil and gas, potentially, but huge amounts of iron ore?? What happens when countries like India (who also have “huge amount of iron ore” get their act together and are able to offer tonnes at lower costs? WA has only been so prospective with iron ore because of our closeness to China. Countries like Brazil produce just as much iron ore as we do. Kalgoorlie’s superpit has only a few years to go. WA is a lot more explored than many other parts of Australia (NT, SA).

      WA relies too heavily on mining and we are slowly starting to see that mining in Australia is becomming less economically viable due to our high costs. There will be a mass-exodus of people from WA as teh mining boom slows. All I am saying is- I wouldnt be so quick to brag

    • DJ says:

      09:27am | 28/11/12

      It would finally make AFL a legitimate international sport at least so they could stop playing that stupid hybrid game!

    • Jack says:

      09:44am | 28/11/12

      WA was illegally occupied by the British anyway as it was formally claimed for France in 1772 by Lt Louis Francois Marie de Saint Alouarn, but admittedly the French were a bit deficient with their paperwork, not helped by a trace of political instability.We should by rights be an overseas French territory with good cheeses. A point on the original decision to join a Federation; the mining vote then came from the Goldfields, populated mostly by people from the Eastern States colonies. Native born sandgropers voted aghainst and these days a majority of locals would also cheerfully get shot of the East, especially the welfare state of Tasmania. Cheers!

    • daniel says:

      10:00am | 28/11/12

      In terms of politics, I think the current political system needs to be overhauled to make all states equal in political capital. I don’t think it’s fair that states with their own economic niches are governed predominantly by ‘outsiders’ who don’t represent a regions interests.

      Take the most recent case to deregulate the wheat industry where you had many WA MPs in favour of it but were being pressured to vote against it for the sake of “party unity” [and not wanting to irk the Nationals in the east].

      Whilst I consider myself currently in favour of secession, that’d change pretty quickly if the affairs of the nation were such that all states had equal representation at a federal level so that state interests could be addressed and protected.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      12:00pm | 28/11/12

      The do- it is called the Senate- which used to be the state’s house until it got corrupted by party politics…...

    • daniel says:

      12:19pm | 28/11/12

      I’m specifically referring to the House of Representatives.

    • Kika says:

      10:11am | 28/11/12

      You also forgot Queensland - up until only recently we had a clause in our constitution saying we could secede at anytime if we wanted. Thanks to Sir Joh. I wish we would.

    • Ray says:

      10:22am | 28/11/12

      I can understand why WA would very seriously consider secession.

      When I was working over there I found it easier (and far more satisfactory) to deal with almost all of the rest of the world rather than the east coast of Australia. Usually the machinery and spare parts I needed were, cheaper, more readily available and delivered quicker.

      I think that a secession would create far more problems for the rest of Australia than it would for WA.

    • MK says:

      10:38am | 28/11/12

      The Only Logcial Argument Against Secession is that we woul no longer be part of the Australian Cricket team

      If it wasnt for that we would have already built an inpenetrable wall of Iron Ore along the rabbit proof fence to keep the East Caost out

    • Esteban says:

      02:50pm | 28/11/12


      The centralisation of policy such as education has been bad for WA cricket.

      There is now no room for compulsory sports in state schools in the curriculum which has been bad for cricket.

      I am a child of era compulsory sports era in WA and remeber the 70’s when at one stage the national cricket team had 7 players from WA and still dominated the sheffield shield.

      If we could unshacle ourselves from the rest we could get back to those days MK.

    • kfr says:

      10:41am | 28/11/12

      Don’t knock us secessing folks. AFL becomes international, bugger gaelic football. We can join the cricket, rugby world cup and know how to play the game! Duty free for FIFO wokers and more!

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      10:45am | 28/11/12

      An invasion of Western Australia by the Eastern States would be tricky logistically but possible. Bring it on, Western Australia. It will give the manufacturing in the eastern states a boost…..

    • Esteban says:

      02:44pm | 28/11/12

      Let us assume for a minute that WA was seperate nation.

      Would the remainder of Australia want a new enemy or a new trading partner?

    • St. Michael says:

      10:45am | 28/11/12

      Just to further put the cat among the pigeons: had the Kimberley Plan proposed by the Freeland League gotten up, about 7 million acres of the Kimberley would have become a resettled Jewish refugee homeland.  Curtin nixed the idea in 1944 principally on the White Australia policy, notwithstanding a big contingent of support for the idea, but still ... imagine the Harry Turtledove books that could’ve come out of that one, people!

    • Jack says:

      02:28pm | 28/11/12

      Much better give Tassie to the Israelis. Currently it is full of navel gazers and those sucking endlessly on the public teat. Put in a mob of pushy Israelis and the joint could give WA a run for its money in producing income.The Israelis might appreciate only having people with long hair and silly clothes to deal with rather than characters infused with nasty feelings from birth towards their Semetic brothers.

    • expat says:

      11:12am | 28/11/12

      I believe it’s Puerto Rico not Puerto Rica.

    • Fergal Davis says:

      12:42pm | 28/11/12

      Yes. Apologies.

    • Mark990 says:

      11:51am | 28/11/12

      As a Sydney sider fed up with the thieving nanny/police state we have come to live in over the past 5 years, I would be the first on the plane to the ‘new land’ if talks of this ever got serious. There is no doubt WA could operate as an independent country if there was a bit of a population boost, and without the useless ‘professional politicians’ fresh out of the student union we currently have ruining the economy I am sure it would boom. The 5 hour reduction on international flights would also be a massive plus! Bring it on!

    • marley says:

      12:51pm | 28/11/12

      You’re assuming they’d let you immigrate.  They might not.  But I understand they do have some nice mothballed detention centers should you take the “wetback” route.

    • jimbo says:

      11:57am | 28/11/12

      Maybe Gina could secede all on her own?  Bit of a low shot there Fergal.  At least she doesn’t have a pencil neck and a case of wealth envy.

    • Fergal Davis says:

      06:44pm | 28/11/12

      Sorry Jimbo, I wasn’t responsible for the photo. I’m sure no offence was intended. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Saucy Sal says:

      12:00pm | 28/11/12

      WA secede? May have its points.

      For example, Ms Whineheart would then no longer be an Australian.

      She’d be ineligible to vote, or to stand for Parliament, federally.

      Or to take ownership of Fairfax or to sit on its board.

      And we could deny her entry as an undesirable alien.

      Yup, looks to have some merits.

    • Swamp Thing says:

      12:01pm | 28/11/12

      @Tim, kidding or uninformed? The SAS are based over here & as we all know (thanks to the media) they are the only unit in the Army (oops ‘defence force’) capable of fighting (sarcasm). You Eastern states mob would have buckleys chance.

    • Ducky says:

      12:08pm | 28/11/12

      How about instead of a secession WA should be annexed by the Hunt River Province?

    • Esteban says:

      12:51pm | 28/11/12

      There is a sheep farm in WA called the “Hutt river province”

    • Bruno says:

      12:10pm | 28/11/12

      When Gina and friends consume all the minerals and the place becomes a barren wasteland then we’ll see. Also hilarious to hear anti-foreigners, the very same people who complain about shops and malls owned by Chinese bragging about the Chinese protecting them. Is that what the famous have a go Aussie spirit that I’ve been hearing about for the past 30 odd years been reduced to, we’ll call China, we’ll call America. They’ll give you weapons let you kill each other then divvy up the country between them. You idiots.

    • andrew of fadden says:

      12:25pm | 28/11/12

      If you go up north in WA, they do the same whinging about propping up Perth as they do in Perth about propping up Canberra.  So, balkanise the joint at your peril, WA.

    • bananabender56 says:

      12:25pm | 28/11/12

      If WA seceded would it raise the average IQ of Australia? With less cashed up bogans I would have thought so.

    • marley says:

      12:52pm | 28/11/12

      Not likely,  They’d just deport all the bogans back to Queensland and NSW.

    • mikem says:

      01:10pm | 28/11/12

      The topic of secession is not even worth wasting breath on because it will never happen.  The only people who think it is a viable idea are the naive and those who mistakenly think it will advantage them financially.  It is total nonsense.

    • Luc Belrose says:

      01:11pm | 28/11/12

      WA will never be allowed to secede from the Federation of States. WA provides billions of dollars of taxes and levies from its wealthy mining operations to the Federal Govt which in turn redistributes the wealth among the other states and territories as per national Govt budget.

    • trevor says:

      01:25pm | 28/11/12

      Why not mention the US? Currently all 50 states have seccession movements going for it, with Texas leading the push.

    • Esteban says:

      02:35pm | 28/11/12

      Although it has peaked and waned over the last 112 years, talk of secession has been a constant since federation in WA.

      WA voted against joining the federation; instincively knowing that with a small number of seats in the house of representatives and being vastly isolated from the rest of Australia was a bad idea.

      A second referendum was taken but with a threat that the border would be moved to the west of the gold fields if WA did not agree.

      Without the gold fields the viablity of going it alone was not as assured. That blackmailing plus the goldfields being mainly populated by eastern staters (the first cashed up bogans ) who voted for federation the state reluctantly agreed to participate in the federation.

      In the following 112 years the issue has never gone away it is just that those from the east never realised or cared about those in the West.

      The East cares now because you are living off mining wealth from WA.

      I doubt that since gold was discoverd in 1890 has WA been a financial burden on the East.

      In fact when we needed you to build infastructure such as the pipeline to the goldfields you were nowhere to be found and funding for the project was provided by London.

      Given that most of the mining tax will come from WA and a paltry amount is to be returned for infastructure one might wonder what has changed.

      The economic argument for secession is very strong and has been since 1890 not just recently with exports to China.

      The ignorance of the East about iron exports to Japan from the 60’s is amusing. WA has been in a mining boom since the 60’s with China a new and important customer.

      The other thing raised by the east is that WA would miss the comfort of an Australian defence force.

      Once again dead wrong. WA instincively knows that like money when we really need you you wont be there.

      Right from federation WA looked to the USA for security rather than the east coast. There is a museum in Albany that has lovely shots of the US navy receiving a huge welcome over 100 years ago. There are no shots of the Australian navy being welcomed.

      I have a piece of rose glassware that my great great grandfather bought for my grandmother to celebrate the arrival of the US fleet in 1904.

      Where outside WA did people buy antique glassware and engrave it to celebrate the arrival of the US Navy?

      During the second world war and because of the isolation of being west of the Brisbane line WA only felt secure after the arrival of the US Navy.

      It does not have to come to secession we just want a review of the carve up of the GST to recognise that we have a greater need for money to fund infastructure to support our rapid growth.

      It is unfair of Canberra to put themselves at the head of the que when it comes to things like mining taxes but right at the back of the que when it comes to providing infastructure funding.

      If the projections come true and by 2050 WA will only have 30% of the GST that we collect returned to WA then our financial relationship with the rest of Australia wille secondary to our export markets.

    • Ben says:

      05:40pm | 28/11/12

      >>Right from federation WA looked to the USA for security rather than the east coast. There is a museum in Albany that has lovely shots of the US navy receiving a huge welcome over 100 years ago. There are no shots of the Australian navy being welcomed.

      Maybe because it’s to do with the fact that this was the visit of Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, which comprised only American ships - hello?

      >>Where outside WA did people buy antique glassware and engrave it to celebrate the arrival of the US Navy?

      Well for starters, New Zealand:

      >>I have a piece of rose glassware that my great great grandfather bought for my grandmother to celebrate the arrival of the US fleet in 1904.

      Try 1908.

    • HC says:

      03:44pm | 28/11/12

      This “living off the backs of miners” comment that so many people seem to accuse Eastern Australians of seems odd.  I have a job (not related in anyway to the mining industry), pay taxes and don’t get a red cent from the government.  And there are many others like me over here.

      So how is it that people like myself benefit from West Australian minerals?

    • Modern Primitive says:

      04:13pm | 28/11/12

      If WA ever wants to secceed and grow the population it needs to do away with the quasi-fascist nanny state mentality the rest of the country has. That way the western bloc could be a pillar of light and reason, whilst the eastern bloc could continue to labour under its safe, self inflicted oppression.

      And there should be auto bahns. Lots of em.

    • Curmudgeon Of High Dudgeon says:

      05:54pm | 28/11/12

      Change the constitution so that minerals belong to Australia and this nonsense would be gone. Parochial horsehit due to an inadequate constitution.

    • Curmudgeon Of High Dudgeon says:

      05:57pm | 28/11/12

      P.S. Gina should seccede. She is bigger than the Hutt River. But what happens when certain body parts want to secede from the rest.

    • Fergal Davis says:

      06:52pm | 28/11/12

      Thank you all for reading the article and taking the time to comment. I enjoyed your lively - if at times irreverent debate:-)

      A few of you mention Texas. It is post (ed?) My main reasons for leaving it to one side were that I was focused on the Catalan elections this week and I have lectured on Scotland for years (and I’m married to a Scot) - so those examples were the ones that came to mind. It is true that Texas is an interesting case for WA. Perhaps I can revisit it in another post (ed?).

      I’ve also become aware that there is a burgeoning secessionist movement in Venice. It will be worth keeping an eye to see whether economics or the pressing rights of ancient nations or a combination are the key factors driving these movements.

      My colleague George Williams has previously written on the constitutional difficulties which would be associated with any attempt at exiting the Commonwealth. On the face of it WA would need a referendum. Unlike Scotland that referendum would have to pass in the other states as well. So it would be a difficult road.

      Once again thanks.


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter