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The case for secession

The following extract from a speech made by Sir Hal Colebatch, Western Australia's Agent-General in London and a member of the Secession Delegation, clearly summarises the main points in favour of secession.

"A glance at the map makes the geographical position clear. Perth is as far from Canberra as London is from Moscow. Between the populated portion of Western Australia and the nearest populated portion of the Eastern States there is a break of a thousand miles: a thousand miles of desert sand. What reason is there to suppose that a common economic policy is necessarily suitable to two communities so separated by nature as Western Australia is from Eastern Australia?

Politically we are almost without power in the Federal Parliament. In the popular chamber we have five members in a house of 74. It is one of the grounds on which our claim for secession is based that most of the political safeguards provided in the Constitution have been destroyed, including the one on which we place chief reliance: the quality of law making power between the Senate and the House of Representatives. A recital of the methods by which both the latter and the spirit of the Constitution have been violated to our detriment is contained in the Case for Secession.

Economically our disabilities may be briefly summarised. We are compelled to sell all our exports in the world's market at world prices, we are compelled - by tariff policy - to buy most of our requirements in the dear and highly protected markets of the Eastern States, or else to pay excessive customs duties to the federal exchequer. Distance prevents us obtaining any benefit from the dear market in Eastern Australia as an outlet for our products, and inter-State free trade prevents us developing secondary industries in competition with the well-established industries of the Eastern States. It is a question into which the relative merits of free trade or protection do not enter. We have the worse of both worlds: a cheap free trade market to sell in and a dear protected market to buy in."

[Battye Library, Acc 240A]

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