Published on: 28 March 2013

Years 11 and 12 politics and economics students had a rare opportunity to attend a question and answer session with the Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett this week. Mr Barnett kindly made himself available for almost an hour after a Declaration of the Poll was held in the School Chapel.

Before Mr Barnett arrived, boys were given an overview of the electoral system by the Returning Officer for Cottesloe Michelle Quinsee. Mrs Quinsee, who is also a Christ Church parent, then made the public declared the Premier as the duly elected member of the Legislative Assembly for the district of Cottesloe.

Head of History Richard Parker said Mr Barnett unknowingly reviewed Year 12 work on federalism, discussing the extent to which the financial dominance of the Commonwealth Government affected WA. “His insight into the difference of the distribution of GST to various states gave the boys a chance to collect additional statistics that will assist them evaluate the effectiveness of federalism in Australia today, a core component of the Year 12 course,” Mr Parker said.

Many Year 12 students posed questions on the burning issues of state and federal relationships, which were addressed in full. “Mr Barnett also added further strength to Mrs Quinsee’s overview by relaying opinion and commentary for the reasons why the swing was so largely in favour of the Liberals in the recent WA election,” Mr Parker said.

Head of Economics and Commerce Andrew Greig said the session gave Year 12 economics students a rare insight into the operation of state and federal budgets and the allocation of taxpayers money. “Mr Barnett gave some excellent examples of opportunity cost and how it relates to the government sector. The huge size of the government sector was also reiterated to the students in terms of employment and the dollar value of its contribution

towards national GDP,” Mr Greig said.

Mr Greig said the Premier also gave a unique insight into the changing relationship with Asia and their increasing importance to the Australian and Western Australian economies. “This tied in well with our recent studies on patterns of trade, the terms of trade and the balance of payments,” Mr Grieg said. “It was also fascinating to hear the Premier’s opinion that we have not experienced a mining boom but rather we have seen an ongoing change to the structure of the Australian economy.”

Both Mr Parker and Mr Greig said the boys asked some relevant questions, were attentive listeners and keen to investigate issues raised further during classroom debate later that day.