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Archive for October, 2011

View from the West – Edition 3

Posted by cegan on October 15, 2011

Well,  what an interesting time in Australia, the Carbon Tax is through and my sky did not fall down. International media, highlighted that we would encourage other countries such as South Korea and China to do more on climate change. Here in the west, its been all about CHOGM as Western Australia’s gentry gets set to show off.

There has been upgrades of hospital wards incase the Queen gets sick, a brand new lift in Government House and sweeping the streets of the homeless. The impression WA wants to deliver is pretty, safe and prosperous…

Yet the political agenda in this state looks at what we don’t have. Local Content levels in Steel Fabrication for example, everything has to be supplied and developed in Western Australia – you see if we provide Iron Ore to China, they can’t compete for our business in WA, we must get all the benefits of a trade system. Then there is the weekly story on power prices going up, cost of living pressures and the families living out of cars.

In a nation of a fair go for all, boom time should be boom time for everyone. But like all capitalist systems, this does not happen. But lets look at some ABS statistics. 13,600 Full Time jobs created in WA during the month of August and a staggering 30% of all new jobs created in Australia, came from the West. The CCI is planning 6% growth this year and 7% growth the year after, unheard of economic growth in the developed world.

As has what happened in other parts of the world, this view of ‘poverty’ plays a part in tall poppy syndrome endemic across the dusty plains, but sometimes the political blame game is altered, by a public who knows little about the split of powers between state and federal authorities.

It is the Federal Government that should enforce welfare standards. It is the Federal Government that is responsible for the social welfare of its citizens in terms of affording electricity and living a sustainable life on all incomes, yet it has failed to alter its tax and welfare policies in the midst of growing income disparity. Egalatarianism as a set social goal  in Australia is at risk.

What has happened in Western Australia, is the demand from the public switches from the Feds to the State Government. Money is spent by the Nationals on fuel cards for pensioners, boarding allowances for parents of  country students an example  of ‘state’ welfare policies that have been developed recently.

Is it any wonder then why historians and policy makers are warning of the disconnect between the Federal and State Government?

When welfare is allowed to be stepped up by a state government, through its burgeoning budgets and without any increases by the Federal Government it skews responsibilities and the state starts to ignore Canberra.

If Gillard wants to get more votes out of the West, it has to see the endemic policy issues that are in play. By allowing federal responsibility to be weakened through lack of funding/political priority, she has allowed WA to further the “only we can look after the best interests of our citizens” view endemic within much of Western Australian politics.

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View from the West – Edition 2

Posted by cegan on October 7, 2011

Well there has been a bit of a delay in my blog recently, but I have been unmotivated to write. Will hopefully write a bit more into the future. One of the under-current views that is rarely picked up by eastern states commentators is the inter-regional rivalries within the state and how politics is much about what side of the river you are as much as whether you like Melbourne or Sydney more.

Consider this, 19kms seperate Perth and Fremantle, the last mayor of Fremantle Peter Tagliaferri commented “That I try to avoid crossing the bridge, other than to North Fremantle for a hair cut…A student and worker within Fremantle I would hear “I have only been to Perth 4-5 times in my life”. Indeed it is highly liberal, highly progressive and has a strong social justice sentiment. It also is extremely insular and conservative when it comes to any alterations to its cultural artefacts. Indeed they stopped the 1960’s boom from destroying its heritage, Freo know who they are and what they will do in the future.They aren’t worried if their fireworks display is called a “cracker display”, the fact they got under the skin of the City of Perth by creating the firework display.

Nattrass the ten Mayor said in a press release.

 ““Comparing Fremantle’s proposed Australia Day cracker show to Lotterywest Skyworks is like comparing the City of Fremantle to the City of Perth – it’s second rate.” (Perth Now, January 2007).

Something you would likely see in a Melbourne v Sydney stoush on which was the best city, these two cities are bi-polar in both modern and colonial history. Indeed it was Captain Fremantle who left the Swan River Colony to set up Fremantle because of a dispute with Captain Stirling. But let us continue on the issue the City of Perth had with its age old rival putting on a fireworks display on Australia Day.

Following that display of animosity. The Melville Times used a Safer Northbridge Lobby group to deliver a headline “Perth says sorry” with a quote for the ages

 “As the great Greek warrior Achilles told his Trojan enemy King Priam, ‘you are a far better king than the one leading my army’ “

Following Australia Day, Nattrass was unrepentent of any citizens in Perth being embarassed by the rivalry.

“Some people chose to watch the greatest event Perth has ever seen and some watched a cracker night,” Dr Nattrass said

The reason I highlight this is to show people from outside of Western Australia, that the Sydney v Melbourne debate which is constant plays out in rivalries all through Western Australia. Politics changes between neigbouring councils, attitudes towards immigration policy is nowhere in Australia more embracive than in Fremantle who have an annual music event to deliver funds to the homeless within their city, but just a short boat ride across Melville Water they bump into Julie Bishop’s seat, the seat held by the party that has its mantra of “Stop the Boats”

Western Australia may be united in its state parochialism, but within the state parochialism for town and cities run right the way through the city. Evident by how the city was set up, conurbations joining the original towns of Guildford, Fremantle and the Swan River Colony.

Federal Politicians getting a handle on this divergence will be necessary if they hope to bridge the parochial divide between Canberra and Perth which is become ever deeper.




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