Sign In

Stopping the Canberra Grab

Text Size a a a Print Print this page

 Secessionist sentiments surfaced again in the early seventies. Mining magnate Lang Hancock led the charge, setting up an office on Stirling Highway in Nedlands to run a campaign against the ‘Canberra grab’.

Hancock and the new Westralian Secession Movement claimed the new secessionists were echoing their 1930s predecessors, wanting the split to be friendly and with a spirit of goodwill.

‘The withdrawal of WA does not involve the severance of race,’ he claimed. ‘The people of WA were good Australians before Federation, they have been good Australians in Federation, and they will be good Australians having withdrawn from Federation.

‘The people of WA will still be loyal subjects of the Queen, living in Amity with their neighbours, and vying with them in the loyalty to the Crown and their attachment to the Commonwealth.’

In 1974, Hancock asserted in his ‘A Condensed Case for Secession’ that ‘…we are not seeking secession from our Eastern neighbours, but secession from the power grasping tentacles of central government.’

The Movement unsuccessfully fielded a candidate, Don Thomas, in the 1974 Senate election, to try and combat what Hancock and others saw as the raw deal being dished out by Canberra to WA. They felt that the State was getting less than a fair return from the Commonwealth for its enormous contribution to the nation via its new-found mineral wealth. They also resented what they saw as the power ‘grab from Canberra’, under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s centralist policies.

But the Movement floundered and once again secession was shelved.