Bold Plan for Australian New States. Tim Quilty M.P. (Victoria).
A Victorian MP has put forward a bold proposal for Australia to have a new “super state” comprising regional parts of Victoria and NSW.
The state’s Parliamentary Budget Office published the radical policy proposal on Friday after state Liberal MP for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty requested “independent advice” about the “economic character” of a new state.
Major Victorian regional centres such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Wodonga and Shepparton would be included in the new state, alongside NSW hubs such as Wagga Wagga, Albury, Orange, Bathurst and Griffith, according to the report.
The move dubbed “Rexit”, meaning “regional exit”, was first raised by Mr Quilty during his maiden speech to parliament in 2018, where he called for regional Victoria and NSW to join forces and split from their capitals.
He said the new state would help curb the social and economic divide between regional and city people.
Mr Quilty told NCA NewsWire on Friday the move “has to happen”.
“I’ve always believed it should happen but didn’t think it would happen at the time I gave the speech and, in the last two years, just seeing how the government runs things — they make decisions that impact regions, they aren’t even considered,” he said.
“This just shouldn’t happen, it has to happen.”
Mr Quilty said there were a couple of models for the proposed new state, the first being northern regional Victoria combined with southern regional NSW.
The second model was for the greater Melbourne and Geelong regions to form one state, and the greater Sydney region to be it’s own jurisdiction, while the rest of regional Victoria and regional NSW would form “one big super state”.
Mr Quilty said he would start a campaign in the next few weeks help his idea gather momentum, in the hope of building a case for a referendum that would redraw state boundaries.
According to 2019 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the population of the proposed new state would be about 1.34 million – greater than the combined population of Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The formation of the new proposed state would reduce Victoria’s population by 0.80 million and NSW by 0.54 million.
“Compared with the remaining areas of Victoria and New South Wales, the proposed new state would have higher proportions of people aged 51 and over and with vocational certificates or high school as their highest level of education,” the Parliamentary Budget Office Report said.
“Using data from August 2016 (ABS), the proposed new state would have a lower unemployment rate than the other areas of Victoria and New South Wales, however it would also have a lower participation rate — the proportion of the working age population that work or want to work.”
Compared with the remaining areas of Victoria and NSW, the report also mentioned the proposed new state would have a higher proportion of households with weekly income less than $1000.
The proposed new state would have a higher proportion of workers employed in the agricultural and health industries.
The following Victorian and NSW geographical areas were included in the report as being part of the proposed new state:
- North West
- Lachlan Valley
- Young – Yass
- Goulburn – Mulwaree
Local government leaders in some of the listed council areas have had a mixed reaction to the proposal, with Bathurst Regional Council mayor Bobby Bourke completely dismissing the idea.
“We’re not interested in any proposal like that,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“We’re happy with NSW as a state and what Victorians do, they do.
“We’ve got enough to put up with with just the eight states and the last thing Australia wants is another state.”
City of Wagga Wagga mayor Greg Conkey didn’t rule out the proposal, but didn’t agree state governments were prioritising metropolitan districts over regional centres.
“It’s an interesting proposal – I’d like to see the finer details,” he said.
“But I don’t think you could argue that we miss out here in Wagga Wagga. We’re expecting $150 million to pour into this city over the next five years, so to some degree the state government is certainly looking after Wagga.”
This is not the first proposal to shake up the Australian jurisdictions.
An ambitious plan to create a new state of North Queensland was part of a political party’s state election agenda in October
The Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) was prepared to push for a referendum on North Queensland to break away from the rest of the state within just six months of a new parliament.
And polling revealed voters were strongly supportive of seceding from the south, with 57 per cent of respondents either strongly agreeing or agreeing with the split.
About 17 per cent of people polled were indifferent, while a combined 26 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed.
There was also a growing push for Western Australia to break away from the rest of Australia and effectively create two nations.
Dubbed WAxit, the bizarre concept had popped up repeatedly over the years but exploded in popularity in October, with a poll conducted by market research group Utting Research revealing 28 per cent of Western Australians were in favour of secession.
The WA Republic Party was created by former candidates of Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party to specifically push that agenda, with the party hoping to win seats in the 2021 state election.
The idea was shut down by West Australian Premier Mark McGowan.