The Commonwealth Government mounted a vigorous campaign to combat the secessionists. It published a 128-page booklet “The Case for Union” with a foreword by Prime Minister Joe Lyons, who urged people to think sensibly about the ramifications of WA cutting itself adrift from the rest of the nation.
The federal campaign canvassed the topics that had flared in the secession debate, including free trade, tariffs, road payments, taxing and spending power, WA’s record of industrial progress, defence, shipping and imports.
It also appealed to national sentiment, quoting…
For God has made her one; complete she lies
Within the unbroken circle of the skies,
And round her indivisible the sea
Breaks on her single shore…
…bound by sacred ties
Of one dear blood, one storied enterprise.
The Federal League of Western Australia sprang up in 1931 in opposition to the Dominion League. Sir Charles Nathan was its founding president and most of the committee were local businessmen, including Harry Boan, founder of the once popular Boans department store.
The League organised several political rallies and wrote letters to the local newspapers in defence of the Federation. Lyons joined WA Senator George Pearce and former Prime Minister Billy Hughes to promote the campaign on a speaking tour.
The League’s ‘No’ campaign called for a constitutional convention to explore WA’s grievances. It claimed a vote for secession was a vote for ‘mischief’ while a vote for a convention was a vote for ‘reform’. However, League members came in for criticism that they were acting out of self-interest due to their commercial links with their eastern business colleagues, rather than the welfare of WA.
All the greyness of the dawning, all the mists are over-past,
In the glory of the morning we shall see Her face at last.
He who sang, “She yet will be,”
He shall haid her, crowned and free.
Could we break the land asunder God has girdled with the Sea?
For the Flag is floating o’er us,
And the star of Hope before us,
From the desert to the ocean, brothers, lift the mighty chorus
For Australian Unity.