The West Australian Liberal Party has voted in favour of a motion to investigate the state seceding from the federation.
The non-binding “WAxit” policy motion, put forward by the Brand division, passed 89-73 at the Liberal state conference on Sunday.
It called for the establishment of a committee “to examine the option of WA becoming an independent state within the Commonwealth”.
The idea for the state to secede came in response to long-held unhappiness in the state with GST distribution.
One of WA’s long-running sores with the Commonwealth is the tiny share it receives of the GST revenues, which are divided among the states and territories.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission’s method calculates that WA’s capacity to produce its own wealth, because of its mineral resources, means it needs less GST revenue than smaller states and territories such as Tasmania and the NT, which cannot match WA’s earning capacity.
WA receives 34.4 cents in every dollar of GST revenue raised in the state. State Opposition Leader Mike Nahan is threatening a High Court challenge, claiming the formula discriminates against some states and therefore violates the constitution.
But any court case is unlikely until Treasurer Scott Morrison’s review for the GST system reports back next year.
Dr Nahan said talk of secession was a well-warranted “expression of underlying frustration” at the state’s treatment within the federation but told the conference he was against the idea.
Dr Nahan said West Australians had good reason to be frustrated with the state’s low GST share, but seeking reform was preferable to severing ties with the rest of the nation.
In 1933, 68 per cent of Western Australians voted in a referendum to self-govern, but the bid was overruled by the Commonwealth.