May 28, 2012
WA threat to split from Canberra
Joe Spagnolo, Perth Now, May 19, 2012
PREMIER Colin Barnett says WA will split from Canberra if the Federal Government doesn't reward the state for driving the national economy.
"That's not a threat. It's reality," Mr Barnett said.
While he said a formal separation from the rest of Australia was not on the agenda, relations with Canberra would become "negligible" if revenue created in the state kept being shifted east.
And he said the ramifications would not just be for the national economy, but for the broader Australian society including sport.
"There would be very little relationship and the WA economy would be fully integrated as part of Asia," he said.
"It's a trend you may see over the next 20 years.
"I think that's a bit of a problem for Australia it would be a bit of a problem for Canberra.
"Unless Canberra gets up to pace with the WA economy we will simply move away from the rest of Australia and get closer and closer to Asia in every respect whether it's business, sport ... or whatever else."
In an interview to be screened on Sky News Australian Agenda today, Mr Barnett stopped short of saying WA should break away from the commonwealth, but in a veiled threat he said the West could survive on its own and was already heading in a very different direction to the rest of the country.
Buoyed by a fourth successive surplus since winning government in 2008 and predictions WA will be in the black for at least three more years, Mr Barnett said the rest of Australia was battling to keep up.
He said Asia was fast becoming WA's new best friend.
"There is not an understanding on the east coast how significant the growth of the WA economy is," he said.
"The WA economy is growing at quite a different pace than Australia as a whole and to some extent the strength of the WA economy is concealing the true weakness of the national economy.
"One statistic proves that.
"In the last 12 months there were 50,000 new jobs created in WA.
"China is now Australia's No.1 trading partner (but) WA produces 73 per cent of all of Australia's exports to China.
"To put it in another context, exports from WA to China are about half of the value of all of the USA's exports to China."
Mr Barnett said WA's falling GST receipts down from 72c in the dollar this year to 55c in the dollar next financial year was another reason it was turning to Asia.
"If we went to a scenario where WA only got 25c in the dollar or no GST at all which is possible at that stage commonwealth-state relations between Canberra and WA would be negligible."
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