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Analysis and Comment (56)

Why are Western Australian artists such as Flynn Talbot, whose work X Y is pictured here, left out of the bigger picture? Why are Western Australian artists such as Flynn Talbot, whose work X Y is pictured here, left out of the bigger picture? Flynn Talbot Studio/Undiscovered Symposium

Western Australian art is excluded from the national conversation

Despite our interconnectedness through radio, television and the internet, the coverage of arts and cultural activities in Australia is viewed from a very close focus. This corrupts our understanding of…
Shark Bay is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Areas, home to dolphins, dugongs, and sharks. Shark Bay is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Areas, home to dolphins, dugongs, and sharks. Matthew Fraser

Climate change threatens Western Australia’s iconic Shark Bay

In the summer of 2010-2011 Western Australia experienced an unprecedented heatwave — but not on land. Between December 2010 and April 2011, sea temperatures off the WA coast reached 3C above average, and…
Western Australia has killed two great white sharks after a surfer was seriously injured last week. Western Australia has killed two great white sharks after a surfer was seriously injured last week. Sharkdiver.com/Wikimedia Commons

Response to the latest shark bite is fuelled by myth and retribution

When I used to tell people that I did my PhD on the politics of shark attacks, they would ask, “Is there a politics to shark attacks?” Nobody asks that any more. Now they just say, “Oh, like in Western…
Annual show: each spring, thousands of people make the road trip north from Perth to see the wildflowers. Annual show: each spring, thousands of people make the road trip north from Perth to see the wildflowers. Supplied

Drought and fire threaten WA’s famous spring wildflowers

Spring has sprung. This time of year is peak wildflower season in the area around Perth, and the display is a major tourism draw card. People flock to places like Lesueur National Park and the Eneabba…
Indigenous groups are concerned about proposed changes to the process for determining heritage sites in Western Australia, including the location of the Nyoongar Tent embassy. Indigenous groups are concerned about proposed changes to the process for determining heritage sites in Western Australia, including the location of the Nyoongar Tent embassy. Allen Stewart/Newspix

Frustration rises over changes to the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act

In June, the Western Australian Government released draft amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. This is the legislation that determines what qualifies for heritage protection in the state – and…
Indigenous land owners weren’t consulted in the past about the creation of Western Australia’s huge Ord River irrigation scheme – but a recent agreement offers a more positive example for developing other parts of northern Australia. Indigenous land owners weren’t consulted in the past about the creation of Western Australia’s huge Ord River irrigation scheme – but a recent agreement offers a more positive example for developing other parts of northern Australia. Pete Hill/Flickr

Lessons from the Kimberley on developing Northern Australia

We are very happy to have got this far. We have had our disagreements but we have managed to work through them and now we are all getting on with the job. We have learnt a lot through the process. Standing…
The once-popular Loch McNess north of Perth has dried up almost completely after a decades-long dry period. The once-popular Loch McNess north of Perth has dried up almost completely after a decades-long dry period. ron_n_beth/Flickr

Saving water in a drying climate: lessons from south-west Australia

Since 1970, average rainfall in the south-west of Western Australia has decreased by nearly a fifth, and the science suggests that this is linked to human-caused climate change. Across Australia, CSIRO…
Canola fields: one of the battlegrounds of the debate over genetic modification. Canola fields: one of the battlegrounds of the debate over genetic modification. Michael Jones/supplied

WA’s court verdict on GM crops is a dose of common sense

In a landmark West Australian Supreme Court decision, a farmer growing a genetically modified canola crop has been spared the blame after his neighbour accused him of contaminating his organic farm next…
A 2.6 m tiger shark entangled in a WA drum line. It was officially released alive - whether it survived is another matter. A 2.6 m tiger shark entangled in a WA drum line. It was officially released alive - whether it survived is another matter. Neil Henderson/supplied

WA’s shark cull didn’t answer the big ocean safety questions

As Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority and the federal environment minister Greg Hunt mull the question of whether to let the state government resume its controversial shark cull next…
The WA government has caught 172 sharks since installing drum lines - but not a single great white. The WA government has caught 172 sharks since installing drum lines - but not a single great white. AAP IMAGE/ SEA SHEPHERD

Five take-home messages from WA’s official shark cull numbers

Perhaps predictably, the Western Australian government has claimed that its shark drum line season, which ended last week, was a success. In a media statement, fisheries minister Ken Baston said that “172…
A section of Robert Dale’s Panoramic View of King George’s Sound. A section of Robert Dale’s Panoramic View of King George’s Sound. Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

A view of everything: panoramas of the Western Australian coast

Often it is just one artwork that kindles the idea for an exhibition. Robert Dale’s extraordinary panorama of King George Sound, engraved by Robert Havell and published as A Descriptive Account of the…
Factional dealings saw Labor senator Louise Pratt demoted in favour of conservative union heavyweight Joe Bullock in the ALP’s WA Senate ticket. Factional dealings saw Labor senator Louise Pratt demoted in favour of conservative union heavyweight Joe Bullock in the ALP’s WA Senate ticket. AAP/Alan Porritt

The ALP becomes its own worst enemy in WA Senate shambles

The only surprising factor in the stories regarding Joe Bullock, who held the number one position on the ALP Senate ticket at Saturday’s Western Australian Senate byelection, was that they took so long…
Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Mining for stories: the boom-and-bust mining literature cycle

It is often difficult to ascertain how the location or culture that you live within is perceived by others, but travelling to other parts of Australia or indeed the world as a Western Australian it’s usually…
Western Australia’s shark kills follow decades of similar policy in Queensland. Western Australia’s shark kills follow decades of similar policy in Queensland. AAP Image/Sea Shepherd

Has Queensland really saved lives by killing thousands of sharks?

One of the most common justifications for Western Australia’s shark cull is the longstanding use of baited hooks - or drum lines - in regions such as Queensland. Two key questions need answering. First…
On the hook: the WA government is targeting white sharks. On the hook: the WA government is targeting white sharks. Flickr/kqedquest

What’s the real risk of being bitten by a shark in Western Australia?

An unprecedented cluster of white shark bite fatalities in Western Australia over the past decade has led the state government to enact a policy of culling large sharks in coastal waters off Perth and…
When it comes to sharks, it’s important we know size and species. When it comes to sharks, it’s important we know size and species. Scubaben/Flickr

Explainer: sharks — why size and species matter

Dozens of sharks have reportedly been caught since Western Australia’s “catch-and-kill” drum line program began two weeks ago. Firm numbers are not available given the WA government’s unwillingness to…
Shark bites on humans are best viewed as random acts of nature rather than deliberate attacks. Shark bites on humans are best viewed as random acts of nature rather than deliberate attacks. Mogens Trolle/www.shutterstock.com

Shark bite statistics can lie, and the result is bad policy

The mathematics of shark bites look pretty simple: the more incidents, the worse the situation. That said, no amount of scientific explanation can fully address the tragedy of people being injured or killed…
Monday’s heatwave forecast - with even worse heat predicted for the south-east this week. Monday’s heatwave forecast - with even worse heat predicted for the south-east this week. http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/heatwave/

What’s cranking up the heat across south-eastern Australia?

Across south-eastern Australia this morning, people are waking up to forecasts of scorching heat for the week ahead. Players and spectators heading to the Australian Open should prepare for some baking…
Great White Sharks will be one of the species targeted under Western Australia’s new shark plan. Great White Sharks will be one of the species targeted under Western Australia’s new shark plan. Flickr/Mshai

Western Australia’s shark culls lack bite (and science)

After a spate of fatal shark attacks over the past two years, Western Australia has released a radical new shark plan that will see large sharks removed and destroyed from designated “safe zones”. The…
Western Australia’s three-year trial found electric cars are a good fit for Australian cities. Western Australia’s three-year trial found electric cars are a good fit for Australian cities. Luke Stearns

Trial complete: electric vehicles can work in Australia

Australia’s first electric vehicle trial has been completed. It ran from early 2010 to the end of 2012 with 11 electric Ford Focus and 23 fast-AC charging bays (Level-2). We found few technological barriers…
A combination of government policy and personal responsibility will keep us safer from sharks than culls will. A combination of government policy and personal responsibility will keep us safer from sharks than culls will. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

How to prevent shark attacks

In light of the most recent shark bite fatality in Western Australia (WA) last week, there have been renewed calls for a cull of large sharks to protect ocean users. Environment minister Greg Hunt has…
With profitability comes responsibility - will Australia’s emissions reduction policy hold LNG producers to account? With profitability comes responsibility - will Australia’s emissions reduction policy hold LNG producers to account? AAP Image/Kim Christian

Federals faff with carbon, Western Australian emissions skyrocket

The ability of a country to make its mind up says a lot about how prepared it is for the future, its resilience and its competitive standing. How a country goes about reducing its carbon is very revealing…
Despite his electoral success earlier this year, WA premier Colin Barnett has suffered a string of economic blows - the latest being a credit rating downgrade and the rejection of his proposed raise in the GST. Despite his electoral success earlier this year, WA premier Colin Barnett has suffered a string of economic blows - the latest being a credit rating downgrade and the rejection of his proposed raise in the GST. AAP/Theron Kirkman

GST rebuff and credit downgrade add to Barnett’s annus horribilis

2013 hasn’t been a good year for Western Australian premier Colin Barnett. Standard and Poor’s recent downgrade of his government’s credit rating continues a pattern. It is not an aberration. Barnett’s…
Due to its small population, WA has only 15 federal electorates, or 11% of the total. Due to its small population, WA has only 15 federal electorates, or 11% of the total. Twodogz photography

State of the states: Western Australia

STATE OF THE STATES: a snapshot of the key issues affecting each state and territory in the lead up to Saturday’s election. During Tony Abbott’s recent campaign visit to Western Australia, the state’s…
Alannah MacTiernan has been preselected for the ALP in the seat of Perth - one of the few the party hold in WA - to replace retiring defence minister Stephen Smith. Alannah MacTiernan has been preselected for the ALP in the seat of Perth - one of the few the party hold in WA - to replace retiring defence minister Stephen Smith. AAP/Rebecca Le May

Chalk the seat of Perth up to a likely Labor win

The federal seat of Perth is one of only three federal electorates currently held by Labor in Western Australia. Retaining this seat is critical if Labor is to avoid complete oblivion in the west. The…
WA Nationals MP Tony Crook is not running for re-election in September. Who will succeed in the ‘friendly’ battle for O'Connor? WA Nationals MP Tony Crook is not running for re-election in September. Who will succeed in the ‘friendly’ battle for O'Connor? AAP/Penny Bradfield

‘Friendly’ rivalry in O’Connor: can the Nationals win again?

The Western Australian seat of O’Connor provides a fascinating battle between the Liberal and National parties that reflects a struggle to win the hearts and minds – and votes – of regional Western Australians…
Liberal MP Ken Wyatt became the first Indigenous member of the lower house in 2010 in the WA seat of Hasluck. Will he be returned this time? Liberal MP Ken Wyatt became the first Indigenous member of the lower house in 2010 in the WA seat of Hasluck. Will he be returned this time? AAP/Alan Porritt

Can Ken Wyatt hold on to Hasluck?

The outer suburban Western Australian seat of Hasluck moved centre stage during the last federal election for two reasons. First, the tight result meant that it was not decided until late in the count…
Litigation surrounding current Noongar land title claims is convoluted and limiting, but will there be an adequate solution? Litigation surrounding current Noongar land title claims is convoluted and limiting, but will there be an adequate solution? AAP/Cortlan Bennett

From the bike to the bus: the Noongar native title settlement

The current negotiations over the Noongar native title claim in the south-west corner of Australia reflect an important maturing of the native title resolution process. Beneath the photo opportunities…
New drought policy is designed to manage the risks climate change conditions pose to successful crop production in Western Australia. New drought policy is designed to manage the risks climate change conditions pose to successful crop production in Western Australia. Flickr/Grevillea

Australia’s farming future: Western Australia

Climate change, and its associated variability, is posing a challenge for farm businesses in Western Australia. The grainbelt has experienced a 20% decline in rainfall over the last several decades, more…
Western Australia remains the only state to have attempted to secede from the Australian federation, passing a referendum in favour in 1933. Western Australia remains the only state to have attempted to secede from the Australian federation, passing a referendum in favour in 1933. AAP/Adam Gartrell

Breaking up is hard to do: why Western Australia would find it difficult to divorce Canberra

Gina Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock was a big proponent of Western Australia seceding from the Australian federation, and every time the latest figures on GST distributions are released, sympathetic sentiments…
Wolfe Creek Crater: the second largest meteor impact site in the world. Wolfe Creek Crater: the second largest meteor impact site in the world. Dainis Dravins - Lund Observatory, Sweden.

Unknown wonders: Wolfe Creek Crater

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers…
Despite anti-gas protests, Woodside pulled out of James Price Point for commercial reasons. Despite anti-gas protests, Woodside pulled out of James Price Point for commercial reasons. AAP image/Cortlan Bennett

Without James Price Point, what now for Browse Basin gas?

Last Friday, Woodside announced it would no longer be developing a gas processing plant at James Price Point in Western Australia. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by environmental groups…
Colin Barnett and his wife Lyn celebrate the Liberal party’s crushing win the Western Australian state election. Colin Barnett and his wife Lyn celebrate the Liberal party’s crushing win the Western Australian state election. AAP/Tony McDonough

WA election: Barnett and the Liberals do it easy

Nobody thought that Labor would form government in Western Australia after the 2013 election. And with the current seat count at 30 for Colin Barnett’s Liberals, 18 for Labor and 6 for the Nationals, it…
The Colin Barnett led Coalition is set to retain government in Western Australia, but Labor under Mark McGowan has shown encouraging signs for the future. The Colin Barnett led Coalition is set to retain government in Western Australia, but Labor under Mark McGowan has shown encouraging signs for the future. Tony McDonough/AAP

WA election: Barnett should win but not all lost for Labor

Putting your finger on the pulse of the WA public can be difficult at times. Even the day before an election. While the nation swims in federal polls, at a state level, survey data of Western Australians…
When it comes to the polls, FIFO workers are most likely to vote for the party which will support their industry. When it comes to the polls, FIFO workers are most likely to vote for the party which will support their industry. Wesfarmers

Western Australia election: FIFO vote

In Western Australia business is booming for the mining and resources sector. The number of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers employed in the state has increased over the last five years to more than 35,000…
Western Australians are heading to the polls this Saturday, but it looks likely Premier Colin Barnett will be in for a second term. Western Australians are heading to the polls this Saturday, but it looks likely Premier Colin Barnett will be in for a second term. Alan Porritt/AAP

Western Australian election: all over bar the voting?

As Western Australian’s prepare to head to the polls this Saturday, where do the parties stand ahead of the state election? Opinion polls published since January have the Liberal and National alliance…
Transport in Perth has become a major talking point for the upcoming state election. Transport in Perth has become a major talking point for the upcoming state election. Flickr/eGuide Travel

Ring around the rail in the Western Australian election

Public transport has risen to the top of the campaign to-do list for the upcoming Western Australia election. Both Labor and Liberal have unveiled plans to bring a rail network to the airport - it’s now…
Western Australia’s State Barrier Fence is designed to keep emus out of farms - but at what cost? Western Australia’s State Barrier Fence is designed to keep emus out of farms - but at what cost? Graeme Chapman.

All cost, little benefit: WA’s barrier fence is bad news for biodiversity

Every five or ten years Western Australia’s emus undertake mass migrations in search of food. On the way they encounter the 1,170km State Barrier Fence, which seeks to stop dingos, emus and kangaroos entering…
Western Australian National leader Brendon Grylls speaks at a press conference in Perth on September 14 2008. Western Australian National leader Brendon Grylls speaks at a press conference in Perth on September 14 2008. Nicolas Perpitch/AAP

Brendon Grylls risks all in battle for the Pilbara

Arguably the most intriguing electoral contest in the Western Australian state election on March 9 is the Pilbara. The leader of the Western Australian Nationals, Brendon Grylls – architect of the multi-billion…
Labor leader Mark McGowan has been widely seen as the winner of last night’s debate ahead of the WA state election. Labor leader Mark McGowan has been widely seen as the winner of last night’s debate ahead of the WA state election. ABC News

WA elections: McGowan wins debate, but damage to Barnett is minimal

Watching a political debate without the assistance of the worm can be difficult. Thankfully we have Twitter to provide us with indicators of the audience’s views. Even more useful is when party members…
Rainfall is dropping, but runoff into dams used for irrigation is dropping even faster. Rainfall is dropping, but runoff into dams used for irrigation is dropping even faster. CSIRO

In south-western Australia, water shortages will worsen

While the rest of Australia has had a reprieve from the Millennium Drought, and floods have recently affected many areas along the north eastern Australian coast, the extended dry period that has affected…
Western Australians are heading to the polls twice this year. Western Australians are heading to the polls twice this year. Jay-Oh

Western Australia: two elections for the price of two

If the thought of one election campaign is your worst nightmare, then pity the West Australians. When Julia Gillard announced a September federal election it meant two campaigns being run simultaneously…
Pre-emptively emptying beaches when sharks are around can save lives, but there are other ways of preventing bites. Pre-emptively emptying beaches when sharks are around can save lives, but there are other ways of preventing bites. Caroline Embrey

Shark bite prevention should be led by evidence, not politics

Things could not be harder for the beach-goers of Western Australia. Following the worst spate of shark-related fatalities ever recorded, it is summer once again. Shark sightings are up and there is always…
Federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke has attracted a national profile with her left wing views in recent years. Federal member for Fremantle Melissa Parke has attracted a national profile with her left wing views in recent years. Office of Melissa Parke MP

In Conversation: Greens are not our enemy, says Labor’s Melissa Parke

Labor’s Melissa Parke probably won’t be too popular with rightwing powerbrokers like Paul Howes with her view that the Greens are a fellow progressive party rather than an insidious enemy to be confronted…
Understanding the stingray’s significance can help us understand opposition to James Price Point gas plans. Understanding the stingray’s significance can help us understand opposition to James Price Point gas plans. Joy VanBuhler

Beware the stingray: Indigenous heritage and WA’s gas plans

For overwhelming economic, social, cultural and environmental reasons the LNG precinct proposed for Walmadany (James Price Point) should not be built…In sum, such a project is against the national interest…
There are a lot of positives in the WA Government’s plan to keep beaches safe - but why cull sharks? There are a lot of positives in the WA Government’s plan to keep beaches safe - but why cull sharks? platours/flickr

Does WA have a problem with sharks, or with the media?

The WA Premier Colin Barnett and Fisheries Minister Norman Moore recently announced the Government will allocate $6.85-million for its “shark mitigation” strategy, in response to the recent wave of sharks…
James Price Point’s monsoon vine thickets are culturally and ecologically important, and undervalued in assessments of environmental impact. James Price Point’s monsoon vine thickets are culturally and ecologically important, and undervalued in assessments of environmental impact. Artist and botanist Jeanne Brown

James Price Point: environmental significance ignored in failed impact assessment

The proposed Browse Liquefied Natural Gas Hub at James Price Point (known locally as Walmadany), 50km north of Broome, has created one of the most fiercely fought environmental and indigenous battles currently…
The waters of the Kimberley in Western Australia have long tempted politicians and engineers wanting to make the drier southern regions bloom. The waters of the Kimberley in Western Australia have long tempted politicians and engineers wanting to make the drier southern regions bloom. Flickr/Koala:Bear

Western water dreamers rise again with Colin Barnett’s canal vision

Settler Australians have a long history of trying to harness the continent’s great rivers to water the dead heart of the country. Schemes such as those of Bradfield and Idriess in the 1930s and 1940s sought…
The Perth CBD showing the corner of William Street and Hay Street. The Perth CBD showing the corner of William Street and Hay Street. (AAP/Tony McDonough)

Australian census: booming Western Australia must embrace its new diversity

AUSTRALIA BY NUMBERS: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the first batch of its census data. We’ve asked some of the country’s top demographers and statisticians to crunch the numbers on…
The recent climate-related deaths of tracts of Western Australian forest go beyond a green issue. The recent climate-related deaths of tracts of Western Australian forest go beyond a green issue. George Matusick

Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop…
WA premier Colin Barnett visits the scene of a bushfire in Margaret River. WA premier Colin Barnett visits the scene of a bushfire in Margaret River. AAP/Tony McDonaugh

Labor in Western Australia: improving, but still a long way to go

Punishing opinion poll results have become a depressingly regular event for Labor in recent times, at federal level as well as in most states. It was thus something of a surprise when a Newspoll result…
Western Australia may have mining wealth, but how do we fund schools in remote areas? Western Australia may have mining wealth, but how do we fund schools in remote areas? AAP/Rebecca Le May

The Gonski review needs to recommend one thing – spend as much as education costs

At first glance, the Gonski review presents an opportunity to correct the funding gap between “winners” (understood as the private schools) and “losers” (understood as the public schools). And it is timely…
The resources boom is political gold for Liberal premier Colin Barnett (second from left). The resources boom is political gold for Liberal premier Colin Barnett (second from left). AAP/Rebecca Le May

From boom to bust: why Labor can no longer win in the West

Last week’s change in the Western Australian ALP leadership ended the three-year tenure of the ousted Eric Ripper – quite a good innings for a modern opposition leader, even if he wasn’t granted the opportunity…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (5)

New giant clam species discovered

A new species of giant clam on reefs in the Solomon Islands and Ningaloo in Western Australia has been discovered. Researchers…