Richard Court

Richard Court

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    Western Australians must stand up for themselves: Premier

    1/01/2001 7:10 AM
     
    1/1/01


      One hundred years after the start of Federation, Western Australians must still be prepared to stand up for themselves against the power brokers based in Canberra, Premier Richard Court said today.

      "Our collective voice must be loud and clear - and the needs of Western Australia should never be pushed aside," he said.

      At the start of the Centenary of Federation celebrations, Mr Court said Western Australians were fortunate to live in one of the few true democracies in the world but we had to ensure we were never overpowered by a centralised system.

      “It is important that we maintain strong independent states within a strong nation,” he said.

      Mr Court said Western Australia’s first Premier, Sir John Forrest, had vigorously defended states’ role during negotiations leading up to federation, fearing the states would lose financial autonomy, and large populations in Victoria and New South Wales would dominate the Federal parliamentary process.

      “When we look back over the past 100 years, Sir John Forrest’s concerns were well-founded,” Mr Court said.

      “Within the first 10 years, the States had lost much of their financial autonomy and there has been a continuing drift to centralise more power in Canberra with the Melbourne-Sydney-Canberra triangle always having the numbers.

      “It’s this situation that we must forever be mindful of - after all, it was the States that created the federation, not the other way around.”

      Mr Court said one of the key features of Australia was our federal structure.

      “This was designed to ensure that a large and diverse country such as Australia could be managed to ensure people from the smaller and more remote states could have a strong voice and be heard,” he said.

      “This was always a driving force behind Sir John Forrest’s federation negotiations.

      “While he saw the need for nationhood, he also saw the need for Western Australians to have the ability to make decisions for themselves without interference from a centralised system.”

      Mr Court said the contribution of Western Australians to the federation was enormous and we should never undervalue our role.

      “We are fortunate to be living in a great country with so many opportunities, but we must always be vigilant to ensure the Federation operates as our forefathers had envisioned,” he said.

      Media contact: Casey Cahill 9222 9475