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.
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.
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The quickest and most effective means of attracting money to the north of Australia is to declare (for a trial period of 20 years) a tax holiday for all workers and salary earners.’‘
That’s not Gina Rinehart but her late father, Lang Hancock, in 1958, who was an equally passionate advocate of developing Australia’s vast resource-rich north.
Rinehart’s increasingly frequent forays into public policy should surprise no-one. Australia’s richest woman inherited not only her father’s lucrative mining interests, but his unfashionable ideas too.
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Australia’s biggest proposed industrial development is looking on increasingly shaky and unsecured ground, with Woodside this week announcing it was asking the Federal Government for a year-long extension on making a final investment decision on its contentious Kimberley gas plant.
That comes less than two weeks after Western Australian Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin handed the James Price Point gas project its biggest setback by ruling that the WA Government had acquired the land illegally.
The Chief Justice found that the government had botched its rushed attempt to compulsorily acquire the land 60 kilometres north of tourist gateway Broome after negotiations between the government, Woodside and the Kimberley Land Council stalled last year.
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He’s a self-confessed “cashed-up bogan” earning $800 a day or more than $208,000 a year in Western Australia’s booming mining industry.
Since dropping out of Mandurah Catholic College in year 10, James “Jimmy” Dinnison, 25, has earned more than a million dollars, bought a house at aged 18, but sees no problem in splurging most of his hard-earned on boy’s toys.
Jimmy works extremely hard in tough, hot and dangerous conditions as a fly-in, fly-out driller working 12-hour shifts in the WA’s north-west, but he has also sparked fierce debate about the fall of the American economy, thanks to an intriguing profile in that country’s highest circulating newspaper, the influential Wall Street Journal.
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Quint would be pleased. The professional shark-hunter from Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws would raise a glass and toast the WA government’s decision to authorise the destruction of the shark responsible for a diver’s death at Rottnest Island last week.
And just like in Jaws, there’s community hysteria, a loss of reasoned thought, at the idea there is a man-eater waiting in the shallows off the coast.
This reaction is admirable and understandable. The loss of a life through misadventure is tragic. Often the casualty is in their prime and their loved ones are always devastated. Our unreserved sympathies go out to those left behind in what must be the worst imaginable circumstances. No act or sentiment can ever fill the hole left in their lives.
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I am trying hard not to sound like a grumpy old man well before my time, but what is it with the fun police on the streets of Perth?
In just one week, the good citizens of the Australia’s western state have been subjected to a raft of state and local government regulations seemingly designed to take the enjoyment out of the simplest of life’s pleasures.
Take the example of Town of Cottesloe, just one of 142 shires and municipal councils in the state, after it foreshadowed the banning of flying kites, hoisting over-sized beach umbrellas, playing with toy cars and drinking from glass bottles on an iconic stretch of beaches along the WA capital’s affluent western suburbs.
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Hasluck is a relatively new seat and has always been marginal - changing at every election. Labor and Liberal Parties have each held the West Australian seat twice.
It is interesting reflecting back on any journey we take in life and remembering each event, which occurred during this time. In reflecting on the Hasluck campaign I have this sense that it was surreal, similar to the effect of a dream that leaves you unsure if it was real or imagined when you wake up. It’s real and I will always cherish the moments frozen in time and locked away in my memories.
My preselection as a candidate seems so long ago, and the whirlwind journey to become the elected member of Hasluck has been exciting and packed with experiences. Campaigns are extremely hard work buoyed by the people who support and work with you each day.
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There’s a Liberal campaign ad running frequently on Perth television that seeks to remind voters how reliant the rest of the country is on the Western Australian mining boom:
“Labor = Labor’s cash cow” goes the punchline.
This plays into a common perception in the west: we’re the backbone of this economy and the bludgers over in the east are milking us dry.
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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave no quarter, nor was any apparently sought, when he strode before the Perth Press Club on Wednesday to defend his resource super-profits tax.
Many in the Perth media felt the PM’s address provided the perfect backdrop from which Mr Rudd could make a form of policy detour, to deftly change tack, and to somehow head off a simmering confrontation with the nation’s powerful mining lobby - a swordfight that is showing every sign of looming into an electoral bloodbath in the state.
A Westpoll conducted for The West Australian a fortnight ago suggests the Federal Government is on a hiding to nothing in WA, with the prospect of it holding just two seats at the next election, Perth and Fremantle, from a possible 15. Labor holds only four in the state.
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UPDATE 12.40pm: WA Premier Colin Barnett just announced Troy Buswell has resigned as Treasurer
Back in 2002 when Laurie Oakes reported on the worst-kept secret in Canberra, that former Democrats darling Cheryl Kernot’s defection to the ALP had more to do with the charms of Foreign Minister Gareth Evans than the promise of a ministry, he set off a quite bitter debate among journalists over the relevance of politicians’ private lives.
Glenn Milne was vocal in his criticism of his press gallery colleague’s decision to fill in the gaps Kernot left in her book Speaking for Myself Again. Lateline devoted a whole segment to the whys and what fors of Oakes’s actions, in which host Tony Jones wondered if the Nine political editor had “actually taken us over some rubicon here”.
WA Treasurer Troy Buswell is firmly in the private-lives-are-private camp, having dug his heels in this morning as he waits for his boss Colin Barnett to decide what to do about the fact Buswell has admitted an affair with a Greens MP, and also copped to using his tax payer-funded car to deliver him to his booty calls.
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As Prime Minister Rudd was dancing around morning television selling his health deal with the states, Opposition leader Tony Abbott remerged from wherever he’s been hiding to lob a little policy smoke bomb.
According to The Australian today, Mr Abbott told a meeting with senior resource industry executives in Perth, he would like to see dole payments stopped to able bodied people under 30, in a bid to fill skill shortages in Western Australia and other mining areas crying out for labour.
The proposal has not been endorsed as party policy, but it does signal the direction the Liberal leader may take in debates about skill shortages and welfare during the election campaign.
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Is it any wonder Western Australian Nationals leader Brendon Grylls is telling his federal cousins to split from the Coalition.
Here in the wild, wild, west the Nationals no longer get sand kicked in their faces – thanks to a deal they struck with the Liberals 12 months ago.
Liberal leader Colin Barnett needed three National Party seats and help from a handful of Independents to form government in 2008.
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Slack-jawed Queenslanders from Logan, Roma and Warwick, brooding hermits in remote South Australian hamlets who can’t explain the sudden disappearance of their parents, Tasmanians who get on a bit too well with their cousins…stand aside the lot of you.
As of this weekend’s referendum, Western Australia is officially the most backward state in Australia. The state that’s synonymous with sun has embraced darkness for an extraordinary third time, with a majority of sandgropers siding with the cows and the curtains to reject the devilish communist plot known as daylight savings.
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