How would you sell membership to Club Australia?
So 2020 still has time left on the clock. What’s it going to throw at us?
Radio-active spiders? A new strain of poisonous ants? Asteroid strike?
I’ve got a hot tip for ya:
Western Australia secedes.
(That’s not a typo. That “secedes” as in, leaves the Federation, and becomes its own nation state).
That’s Western Australia, riding off into the setting western sun, flipping the rest of the country the bird.
“See ya losers.”
If you live on the east coast, this is just going to sound like another one of Uncle Jon’s boozy ouzo rants. But if you live in WA, you know what I’m talking about.
There’s a strong and brewing strain of political separatism. WA has its own identify. It has its own culture. It’s independent of the broader Australian identity.
If you live in Sydney and Melbourne you don’t get this, because you think you are Australia. You think what’s happening on the East Coast is the Australian experience. You forget that other places exist.
West Australians find this self-centring pretty annoying. They feel like they’re the forgotten cousin of Federation, and they really wonder what membership of Club Australia actually gets them.
Arguments that WA pays more than its fair share – either in tax revenue or resource exports – get a lot of political traction.
This has all been brewing for a while.
But now Covid has accelerated the whole story.
WA is finally finding some benefit in its isolation. The tyranny of distance has become the blessing of distance. Covid hasn’t taken hold.
And so, unsurprisingly, they want to raise the draw-bridge. They don’t want any Coviddy easterners coming over and spoiling things.
The Feds don’t like it, obviously. All along there’s been a tension between Canberra and the state capitals. Canberra has responsibility for the economy – and for underwriting the unemployed, so they want the economy to remain open.
The states have responsibility for hospitals and schools, and so want to prioritise keeping people safe.
This tension exists across the country, but it’s overlayed on existing political fault lines in WA.
And now the whole concept of borders becomes interesting. For most people our state borders were pretty meaningless. They were just random lines where the number plates changed colours.
But now they’re significant. Now they mean something. They could even be a matter of life and death.
And we are having to look at where our allegiances lie. Is it to our community, to our city, to our state, to our nation?
What are we willing to accept in the name of the greater collective?
I mean, what argument would you put to WA if it wanted to run it’s own show? If it said that it was sick of Federalist bullying?
“Aw don’t go guys. It’d be lonely without you.”
(I think the most forceful argument is collective national defence, but that’s not an issue that directly impacts most people lives… yet. 2020’s not done yet.)
And what happens if WA starts heading for the exits? Who’s next? Tasmania? Darwin? Far North Queensland? Northern NSW? Fitzroy?
What exactly is it that holds this nation together?
I’m not sure I have the answer.
But seems like it might be a good time to start asking the question.