Those West Australians who quite fancy the long talked-about idea of secession from the rest of Australia may be at the closest point they’ve ever likely to be to realising that dream.
The state is functioning near-normally internally, with the only intrastate travel restrictions being applicable to certain remote Aboriginal settlements.
Restrictions on the entry of many non-WA residents, however, remain in force and are being stringently applied to anyone who may have previously been in Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland.
Western Australia is, to all intents and purposes, more isolated, self-contained and self-reliant than at any point in its recent history.
State of emergency could stay to end of 2020
WA’s state of emergency, in force since March, shows no signs of being lifted and could remain in force until the end of 2020, the Police Commissioner, Chris Dawson, has warned.
In an interview with local radio station 6PR, he said he couldn’t foresee much changing before then.
Legally, the state of emergency needs to be reviewed and, if necessary, reinstated every two weeks.
We’ve got to plan for months ahead at the moment
“We’ve got to plan, I think, for months ahead at the moment, and whether it extends beyond a year I can’t say,” Dawson told the radio station.
“I don’t have a crystal ball but at the moment, I can’t see much happening to lessen the current state that we’re in for the rest of this year.
“But again, I’ve got to assess that every fortnight.”
He stressed that WA could not afford to be “apathetic”, otherwise it could face a situation similar to what is being seen in Victoria and New South Wales.
“The Victorian situation can very easily be replicated in other parts of Australia, including Perth, if we’re not vigilant, if we don’t maintain our personal hygiene, if we don’t maintain our physical distancing,” Dawson said.
Move to lessen internal restrictions may go on hold
According to ABC News, it also seems likely that WA’s proposed move to lesser internal COVID-19 restrictions may be moved back yet again, given the ongoing infection problems in Victoria and, to a lesser extent, NSW.
Originally the plan was to reduce restrictions by 18 July, but this was subsequently moved back to 1 August and then today to 15 August.
“The move to phase five restrictions would see the 2-square metre rule removed and the 50% capacity limit covering stadiums and arenas scrapped,” the ABC reported.
WA secession was talked about in the early 1900s
In WA, the concept of secession from the rest of Australia has been a part of mainly fringe politics since the early 1900s. Its supporters have always argued that isolated WA contributes more to the coffers of Australia than it receives in return.
In 1933 there was even a referendum to decide whether the state should go its own way.
In June this year, four activists from the New Westralia secessionist movement were arrested when they broke into a historic courthouse.