How Western Australia voted to separate from the rest of Australia in 1933 and how they might try again
Western Australia has already voted to secede from the rest of Australia and the land of billionaire tycoons may try again.
One of Australia’s most renowned constitutional law experts has said any attempt to break up to form a new country could even trigger military intervention from Canberra.
WA, the home of 2.6 million people, is a near-monopoly producer of Australia’s largest export iron ore, the raw material used to make steel.
The state Labor government is prudently raising $ 5 billion a year in royalties from iron ore.
National iron ore exports are worth more than $ 100 billion annually, with Western Australia home to 98% of Australia’s iron ore reserves, meaning the state rakes in around $ 38,000 per capita from these mineral deposits alone.
Western Australia has already voted to separate from the rest of Australia and the home of billionaire tycoons may try again
WA, the home of 2.6 million people, is Australia’s largest export producer of iron ore, the raw material used to make steel. Pictured is an iron ore dump truck in the Pilbara area
Two-thirds of this goes to China, Australia’s largest trading partner.
How Western Australia voted to secede in 1933
On April 8, 1933, Western Australians were asked: “Are you in favor of the withdrawal of the State of Western Australia from the Federal Commonwealth established under the Constitution Act of the Commonwealth of Australia?”
The “yes” received two thirds of the votes, or 66% of the votes
The British Parliament did not accept the result because the petition for the result did not come from the Commonwealth of Australia
Constitutionally, WA can only separate from the rest of Australia if a majority of voters in a majority of states have voted to let Western Australia go to form its own country.
Again, iron ore accounted for 43 percent of Australia’s exports to China in value terms last year.
WA is also less affected by the coronavirus crisis, with the number of jobs between March 14 and August 22 falling by 1% – well below the national average of 4.2%, data on wages from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released Tuesday.
By comparison, Victoria suffered a 7.9% drop with Melbourne in a tight Fourth Leg lockdown with an 8pm to 5am curfew.
Being a mining powerhouse, WA often saw itself as separate from the rest of the country – even before closing its border in April for the first time.
This is perhaps not surprising given that the capital Perth – home of mining billionaires Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest and media mogul Kerry Stokes – is closer to Singapore than to Sydney.
In April 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, 66% of Western Australians voted yes in a referendum to secede from the rest of Australia.
Nationalist Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell was elected three years earlier on a platform of rupture with the rest of the country to form a new nation, Westralia.
Although two-thirds of Western Australians voted yes, the British Parliament said no after receiving a petition from the state.
Constitutional law expert Professor George Williams, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, said the petition was declared inadmissible because it did not come from the federal government.
The state’s Labor government takes $ 5 billion a year from iron ore royalties, rising to over $ 6 billion when liquefied natural gas is factored in. Pictured is an iron ore miner in the Pilbara area of Washington state
“The Commonwealth opposed secession, so the case ended when it became clear that Western Australia would not use force or unlawful actions in the hope of having what she wanted, ”he told Daily Mail Australia.
Even if WA were to vote yes again to become an independent nation, it could not become a separate country unless a majority of voters in a majority of states votes yes.
This is an unlikely scenario given that only eight out of 44 referendums have succeeded since Federation in 1901.
“Secession is no longer likely to succeed today. The Australian Constitution simply does not contemplate breaking up part of the nation, as no state has the right to unilaterally leave the Federation, ”said Professor Williams.
In April 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, 66% of Western Australians voted yes in a referendum to secede from the rest of Australia. Pictured is a period pamphlet pleading for secession
“Any attempt to do so could trigger legal or even military intervention by a law enforcement Commonwealth.”
WA Nationalist Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell was elected in 1930 on a platform of rupture with the rest of the country to form a new nation, Westralia
For now, Labor Prime Minister of WA, Mark McGowan, is using his state police to prevent other Australians from crossing the Nullarbor Plain in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 from the states of l ‘East.
He resisted Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls to reopen the state to the rest of Australia.
New South Wales-born and raised head of state will have what he wants unless billionaire mining mogul Clive Palmer can convince the High Court that this is a violation of article 92 of the Constitution which says that “commerce, commerce and relations between states … will be absolutely free”.
While Victoria and NSW have subsidized Western Australia for most of its history as a state, over the past several decades the federal government has viewed WA to be so self-sufficient that it has diluted its share of the proceeds. of the GST.
As recently as 2015-16, the Commonwealth Grants Commission allocated just 30 cents on every dollar of goods and services tax collected.
Although two-thirds of Western Australians voted yes, the British Parliament said no after receiving a petition from the state. Pictured are unemployed men in Perth in the early 1930s walking to see their Prime Minister Sir James
That climbed to 47 cents on the dollar in 2018-19, but as part of a deal reached with the Morrison government in November 2018, the Commonwealth agreed to set a floor of 70 cents from 2022 to 2023.
Perth – home of billionaire magnanimous miner Gina Rinehart (pictured) is closer to Singapore than Sydney
WA may well need more GST funds in the years to come, when the Simandou iron ore mine in the West African nation of Guinea may begin production in just five years.
Brazil could also increase its iron ore production, as it recovers from the Vale tailings dam disaster in January 2019, which left 270 people dead.
University of Sydney constitutional law expert Professor Anne Twomey said WA would likely need the rest of Australia when China no longer needs so much of its iron ore.
“Now that he has become a contributor, rather than a recipient, he has complained,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“Maybe once he’s contributed to other states for about a century, like New South Wales and Victoria have done, he could be vindicated in his complaints.
“It is more likely, however, that when the mineral boom ends, Western Australia will once again be a beneficiary. He must therefore be careful what he wants.