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Perth, c1900In the 100 years since Western Australia joined the Federation there have been huge changes in the State. Increases in population, changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of Western Australia, economic expansion, transport and communications revolutions and alterations in the nature of Commonwealth/State relations would make Western Australian society almost unrecognisable to the sandgroper of the 1900s.

Narrows Bridge, c1955In 1901 Western Australia's population was 189,000, or just under 4% of Australia's total population. Today the number of Western Australians has grown to nearly 1.9 million, or just under 10% of Australia's population, making the State Australia's fourth most populous. Western Australians still remain a minority in a Commonwealth dominated by the two largest States, Victoria and New South Wales.

Perhaps the change with the biggest bearing on Commonwealth/State relations during the late 20th century was the development of Western Australia's mineral wealth during the boom period of the 1960s and 1970s. It was at this time that Western Australia's economic position within the Federation shifted dramatically.

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