Voting on the referendum of secession or a Federal convention to consider the removal of the disabilities developed under federation presented peculiar features. The electorates returning Labor representatives voted strongly for secession. Agricultural votes show five to two in favor of secession. Metropolitan votes so far show comparatively small majorities for secession.
PRIME MINISTER’S COMMENT
Disappointed But Not Surprised
What Commonwealth Will Do
Commenting on the referendum in West Australia, the Prime Minister stated today that he was naturally disappointed at the result, although judging by the feeling that had been displayed in the campaign, he was not surprised at the verdict. Clearly a majority of the people in West Australia in their present mood were impervious to the logic of incontrovertible facts, and were prepared to give vent to their feelings against the eastern States, irrespective of the consequences. As far as the Commonwealth Government was concerned, it would proceed with the proposal already announced to invite the State to express their views as to the desirability of holding a constitutional convention, and also to get into the question of the assistance required by the smaller States.
Asked whether the Commonwealth Government proposed to take any other action, the Prime Minister stated that would depend upon what West Australia did.
COMMENT IN LONDON
Futility of the Referendum
The referendum on the West Australia secession issue has created much interest here.
The “Observer” says: – “Federation like marriage, is for better or worse, richer or poorer, but there is no constitutional divorce court to which an aggrieved partner like West Australia can resort. The secession poll will be quite ineffective, except as an indication of public feeling.”
The “Times” says: – “No State maintains more pronounced individually or sturdier local patriotism than West Australia. It is a small community, engaged in a hard struggle for existence, and out of sight is apt to be out of mind. There has always been a feeling that Commonwealth authorities have little interest in its peculiar difficulties, and it is inevitable that West Australia should regard herself as the Cinderella in the sisterhood of States, but it is only within the last two or three years that the movement for secession has been taken seriously. With the depression has come a change of temper, and the movement in favor of secession gathered strength so fast that an affirmative vote is regarded as quite possible. The outsider may doubt whether the movement would have become so strong but for the handicap placed on West Australian development by a tariff policy framed in the interests of the secondary industries of the eastern States. Under the present system the west State suffers all the disadvantages of protection and free-trade, and enjoys the benefits of neither. Whether she would be better off under secession, even if secession were possible, is another question. The State even now gains more than she loses by being part of the Australian Commonwealth. It is evident that Federal statesmen admit the existence of serious grievances, and are prepared to do their utmost to remedy them. Doubtless many who vote for secession will do so in order to drive the lesson home.”
The financial editor of the “Daily Telegraph” says: – “Though some Australian stockholders might become uneasy in the event of a secession vote in West Australia, such a vote would have no sinister meaning. West Australia could not secede from the Commonwealth without the consent of the majority of the votes of all the other states. A vote for secession can be regarded only as a vigorous protest against Commonwealth taxation regulations, which bear unduly on States almost wholly dependent on primary products.”
The financial editor of the “Daily Herald” says: – “As a result of Perth messages there is a tendency to offer West Australian stocks for sale, but there is no cause for alarm. The vote will have no legal or constitutional effect.”