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Identity 2000

Tourist brochure, c1950 Not all people living in Western Australia would automatically identify themselves as being Australian, let alone Western Australian. National and regional identity are impossible to describe in anything but the broadest of generalisations. A second generation Australian of Chinese descent, for example, may have a different understanding of what it is to be Western Australian to that of a Nyungar or an English migrant. A Victorian living in Western Australia may have a completely different perspective.

The physical isolation of Western Australian communities is reflected in the State's history of sporting involvement and its sense of cultural isolation. Distance has fostered a sense of parochialism and separateness. National success, indeed national identity, has often been measured in terms of Western Australian content and Western Australian contributions.

In the 21st century West Australians are looking less to Great Britain, or even to the eastern coast of Australia, and more towards their region:
Tourist brochure, c1950"because of our isolation, there's a strong achievement focus. Our business sector has been very progressive, for example in south-east Asia and Asia generally. You go back to the 1960s, WA was leading the push into Japan and Korea. I think that our isolation at that level has been a plus because we've worked out that there are new opportunities there that we needed to take up and the protected industries of the east weren't really taking that up. So I think we've been achievement oriented.

Secondly, we're regionally oriented which is a big plus, particularly south-east Asia and north Asia. Use one example, our universities I think of all Australian universities were the first to really take up marketing of education in Asia very successfully. They do it well, they've earned a good income for the State and they've developed good relations with people who live nearby so I think we've been very good on Asian issues generally in Western Australia.

Our achievement in sport and in culture and in business I think is indicative of a people that are keen to get on and do something, so I think there is this achievement orientation where things aren't taken for granted as much as they are in the other States. As I said, that's the plus side of it.

I think the negative side of it, occasionally that can become an excuse for breaking rules in terms of business practice. It can occasionally become an excuse for being too aggressive and unreasonable in terms of federal/State issues. And at times I think we can, generally speaking, be a little bit too sensitive to our isolation. WA like all jurisdictions, all States, all provinces, all nations is made up of contradictions and different interests."

Geoff Gallop, April 2000.
[Battye Library, OH3012]

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