Is Australia going west? Will Perth be the capital of Australia by 2050?

A public forum with Professors Geoffrey Blainey AC and Geoffrey Bolton AO, presented by the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and Faculty of Arts. Chaired by renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster, Geraldine Doogue.

Is Australia going West Forum

Two of Australia’s most eminent historians, Professors Geoff Bolton and Geoff Blainey, long-time sparring partners, discuss Perth’s increasing significance on the national scene. Today Western Australia’s booming economy bankrolls the nation. Are there parallels with the past? Were there similar trends during the Western Australian gold boom of the 1890s, when the population of the colony quadrupled and thousands of the unemployed, professionals and labourers alike, fled depressed conditions in the eastern colonies. Today the population of Western Australia is also increasing at a very rapid rate, with an increase of about 57,000 people in 2011 alone. In the 1890s the vast majority of new West Australians were male. Is this the case today? And what does it mean for the future? By 2050 will Western Australia’s natural resources — its iron ore and natural gas — have generated such vast increases in population and wealth that the economic centre of the nation will have shifted west? Or will our riches have all run out?

Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC, was born in Melbourne and educated at the University of Melbourne. He became the University of Melbourne’s Professor of Economic History in 1968, Professor of History in 1977, and then Dean of Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts in 1982. From 1994-1998 Blainey was foundation Chancellor at the University of Ballarat. He has held numerous national positions; including inaugural chair of the Australia Council and Commissioner of the Australian Heritage Commission. He has published 32 books and has a particular interest in the history of mining in Australia, having written numerous mining company histories as well as The Rush that Never Ended: a history of Australian Mining (1978). He is probably best known for his book The Tyranny of Distance (1982), a phrase that has entered the Australian lexicon. His ten-part series on Australian history, ‘The Blainey View’ was screened onABC TV in 1982-83, and he delivered the Boyer Lectures in 2001.

Professor Geoff Bolton AO, was born in Perth and educated at The University of Western Australia. He won a Hackett Research Scholarship to Oxford where he gained a PhD in 1961. He was Senior Lecturer at Monash University (1962-1965), Professor of Modern History at UWA (1966-1973), and Murdoch University’s Foundation Professor of History (1973-1989). From 1982-1985 he established the Australian Studies Centre at the University of London. In 1989 he took up the inaugural Chair of Australian History at the University of Queensland. In 1993 he returned to Perth to establish the history program at Edith Cowan University. He was Chancellor of Murdoch University from 2002-2006. He is the author of many books, including The Oxford history of Australia. Volume 5, 1942-1988 (1990) and most recently Land of Vision and Mirage: a short history of Western Australia (2008). He delivered the ABC’s Boyer Lectures in 1992. In 2006 he was named Western Australia’s Australian of the Year.

25 October 2012