Resource Sheet 1

Doubts about Federation

Mr John Forrest, Premier of Western Australia

[Western Australia] has few exports to the other colonies, and large importions from them. It seems to me that half our revenue is derived from Customs, and we would have to give up that to the central Government. Of course it is said that a considerable portion of that will be refunded, but we have no guarantee of this. We have to face this difficulty that we have incurred large liabilities, and laid out considerable sums, and if we are deprived immediately of half our revenue, without any certainty that any portion will be returned, we will have to look about and tax ourselves in order to make up the deficiency.

The West Australian, 15 April 1891.

Mr John Hackett, MLA

As regards Western Australia, that colony has not considered the question as fully as it deserves. No doubt she will do this, and that she has not already done so is simply due to the fact that her own hands have been so full with the task of inaugurating her own constitution and initiating her bold and even momentous public works policy, that she has had little else to think of.

The West Australian, 15 April 1891.

Letters to the editor

I think no Federation is possible… unless absolute security is given for the state rights of the smaller states, which security can only be given by having one Chamber in the Federal Government which represents equal state rights. Of the two Chambers… one should be elected on the basis of “one man one vote” and one on the basis of “one state one vote,” and no small state would be safe in accepting less than this. The only logical argument in favour of “one man one vote” is that each individual’s interests, be they small or large, are to him as important as those of any other individual, and the argument applies with even greater force to state interests.

WE Abbott, The West Australian, 8 December 1896.

A great deal of sentiment has been ex-pressed with respect to “one nation, one flag,” as though that would bring in a reign of prosperity. For my part, I am unable to see that we are other than one nation at the present; in fact, we are more effectually so than any scheme of Federation can make us, and as to the “one flag,” well it might make a good coverlet for a bed, but I fear hardly large enough, to cover the unemployed in any one of the Eastern colonies.

‘Progress’, The West Australian, 21 August 1899.