IntroductionIsolation 1929DiscontentDominion LeagueFederal LeagueSecession
 
Campaign-Federal LeagueCampaign-SecessionLondonFailureForgettingA Federated State ?

Forgetting

Consumer boom, c1950Almost as quickly as the secessionist storm had descended on Western Australian politics it blew itself out as people got on with the business of recovering from the Depression. Once rejected by the British Parliament a movement which had been based on returning Western Australia to the embrace of the British Empire as a dominion had nowhere to go.

From the height of secessionist feeling in 1933, the Dominion League quickly folded once it had failed to be heard. Although there was brave talk about further challenges, the movement had little option but to accept rejection by the country to which they had appealed.

The reaction of one Secession Delegate James MacCallum Smith on returning to Perth after eleven frustrating months in the United Kingdom was typical of a secessionist response. Although disillusioned with the British Parliament he admired the British people and monarchy :
"Most people marvelled that Western Australia had put up with the Commonwealth domination so long. Had the settlement been left to public opinion we would have obtained justice long ago instead of having been 'jockeyed' out of our rights for so called 'Constitutional Conventions', a term invented to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. And everybody who gave the Case serious consideration were disgusted with the shabby way Western Australia was treated by the Imperial government."
[Battye Library, Acc 240A]
De-mobilisation, c1945By the late 1930s the Australian economy was well on the road to recovery. The establishment of the Grants Commission in the 1930s - an indirect result of the secession crisis - gave Western Australia a vastly better financial deal. This went some way to addressing Western Australian grievances. The Collier State Labor Government was opposed to secession. Having discharged his duty to send a delegation to London, Collier showed no further interest in secession. By 1941 John Curtin, the first and only Western Australian Prime Minister of Australia, was in office after six years as leader of the Labor Opposition.

The outbreak of the Second World War increased Australia's sense of national purpose. The very real fear of invasion and defeat helped solidify national identity. With the transfer of some powers and responsibilities from States to the Commonwealth to assist the war effort, the Federal Government became increasingly important in the lives of all Australians. During the war secession was an irrelevant concept, and once victory was won in 1945 its cause was quickly forgotten.

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