AFTER Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, then Prime Minister John Curtin said Australia now “looks to America free of any pangs as to our traditional links of kinship with Great Britain”.
As WA Premier Colin Barnett flew to Singapore to open his Government’s newest overseas office, it is not inconceivable to imagine him channelling the wartime PM to explain WA pivoting its attention north.
“WA now looks to Asia, free of any pangs to our traditional links of kinship with Canberra,” he might say.
The Premier makes no secret that in what is being dubbed the Pacific century, WA’s economic, if not political and cultural future, lies to the north, rather than the east.
Figures released last week showing interstate visitors to WA dropped more than 20 per cent last year, perhaps reveal that the feeling is mutual.
No WA Premier has ever lost votes picking a fight with Canberra, and with WA set to receive a record-low 55 cents per dollar paid in GST next year, there is some substance to his complaints.
Before we resort to the cries of secession however, it is important to consider all that has been gained by being a part of federation.
Prior to the mining boom mark one, WA was a net recipient of funds from the more populous eastern states.
Our shared history through world wars, depression, droughts and floods binds us, as does our love of footy and our national sporting teams.
Not to mention that the members of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force who defend the sparsely populated areas of WA’s north, so vital to our economy, are formed primarily by people born interstate.
WA has much to offer, not just to the booming economies of Asia, but also to the continued prosperity of Australia.
These twin outcomes are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, they go hand in hand.