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Secession

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After Federation, many Western Australians felt they had lost more than they gained by joining. By 1933 they became so dissatisfied that they voted overwhelmingly at an advisory referendum, by a two-thirds to one-third majority, to secede from the Australian Federation. A petition was sent to London where a Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament ruled it invalid because it had come from a State not the Commonwealth.

Though it was mainly seen as a protest vote at Commonwealth ignorance of the State's desperate circumstances during the early Depression years, secessionist calls continue to arise from time to time.

Many of the reasons underlying Western Australian feelings of resentment continue today. But the question is, having chosen to enter the Federation, can we leave? Or are we bound, as the preamble to the Commonwealth Constitution states, by the fact that the States have…

...agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth...?

 

 
 
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​A delegation from Western Australia travelled to London to deliver the Secession Petition.  Shown are four delegates on the roof of Savoy House.
Battye Library 54861P