Western Australians do consider themselves to be somewhat different from the rest of Australia. Not just in geography but culturally as well. For example, their shops are still closed on a Sunday to protect family values. Because of such factors there has always been mutterings about secession. However cultural differences have grown into grievances in recent times with Western Australians feeling like they are propping up the rest of the nation.
The federal government was more than happy to take the money from Western Australia’s mining boom, yet they never received much back. Especially when it comes to their GST share. Secession was first considered a viable option by many Western Australians when the Rudd/Gillard governments launched their mining tax but nothing ever came of it.
But secession is now back on the agenda thanks to a successful motion at the Western Australian State Liberal Party Conference this weekend. The motion passed will see a committee of six party members established to investigate Western Australia becoming a “financially independent State”.
It had the support of the current State Liberal President Norman Moore a long-time supporter of succession, however not the current state Opposition Leader Mike Nahan. However, several more state Liberal MPs were much more disparaging of the motion but the grassroots of the Liberal Party carried it.
The Labor Party which had long been the chief milker of Western Australia’s resources at a federal level is now in power at the state level. So now current Premier Mark McGowan to fulfil his promise of budget repair is now also lobbying Canberra for a fairer GST share. This perhaps maybe opens the path for bi-partisanship on Western Australian secession down the track?
Of course, there is still a long way to go for sucession to ever become a reality, but the public are receptive to the idea. They certainly were back in 1933 when they voted in a referendum to secede. However, because Australia’s Constitution appears not to allow secession the establishment of a separate Western Australian nation was rejected by the British Parliament.
The ABC published an article earlier this week disparaging the idea of Western Australian secession. It highlighted problems the new nation would face such as raising an armed forced, establishing a currency, embassies all around the world and also fielding their own national sporting teams. It was also these sorts of objections which led to the defeat of the Scottish independence referendum in 2015.
You would think with all this negativity that Western Australia would become to first nation in modern history to peacefully secede. There was the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s and more recently the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro. They faced the same initial challenges any new nations did yet that didn’t deter them.
The Western Australian secession movement is already being called WAxit by the media. It already has a Facebook campaign page established called Westralia Shall Be Free – #waxit. It is certainly a radical proposition but one that certainly has merit and would not just benefit the people of Western Australia but the remaining Commonwealth of Australia.
Looking around the world smaller nations tend to do better economically. Just look at both the economic freedom prosperity of micro-nations such as Singapore. Contrary to what claim about the expense of running such a small nation the size of their governments’ spending to GDP ratio is actually lower than larger nations.
Because of their small size the governments of these nations realise they need to attract business and investment for their economics to prosper. Though Western Australia already has the advantage of being resource rich which further increases their economic potential as an independent state seeking investment.
Their tiny populations also do not make them an easy target for invasion or result in them being pushed around by larger nations. As for the problem of having to establish a new currency, Australia switched from pounds and shillings to decimal currency in 1966 without the economy collapsing, I’m sure Western Australia would manage just fine.
The remaining Commonwealth of Australia would also benefit because they would now have a new economic competitor right on their doorstep. If the new nation of Western Australia significantly lowered its personal and company tax rates and cut red and green tape that might incentivise those in Canberra to finally cease the growth of government. If Australia continued its tax and regulate mantra then businesses could simply go west.
Another objection against succession would be that would destroy Australian pride. But these Western Australians are wanting to brake away because they are proud of their state and want to empower themselves. The remaining Australia would still enjoy the same history, culture and values as before.
A secession doesn’t always mean there is bad blood between the new states. One would not think Western Australia would want to erect a border wall to keep the Easterners out (maybe Victorians). We would enjoy the same relationship with an independent Western Australia that we already do with New Zealand.
So good on these Western Australian Liberals for having courage to bring such a radical idea into the political mainstream. The Western Australia politicians may not be embracing yet but it’s certainly a proposal that would gain a lot of traction from the Western Australia population at large. As a person from Eastern Australia if WAxit was to happen there would be no hard feelings. And unlike 1933 one would hope that the federal government would respect a WAxit decision.