Australian regional rivalries

Australian regional rivalries

Australian regional rivalries refers to the rivalries between Australian cities or regions.


Sydney - Melbourne rivalry

There has been a long standing rivalry between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. The rivalry between the cities was the reason that neither Sydney (the oldest city) nor Melbourne (the largest city at the time) was chosen as the capital of Australia when the nation was federated in 1901. Because of this disagreement, section 125 of the Australian Constitution specified that Melbourne would initially serve as the capital on a temporary basis, while the permanent capital of the new Commonwealth must be north of the Murray River (placing it in New South Wales rather than Victoria) but at least 100 miles from Sydney. This city became Canberra. Melbourne operated as the capital city from 1901 until 1927, when Canberra's Parliament House was opened. Various Commonwealth governmental bodies continued to operate principally from Melbourne or Sydney after 1927. Most civil service departments were moved to Canberra in the 1950s, and the High Court of Australia was finally moved from Melbourne to Canberra in 1980.

Rivalry and differences between the colonies was a feature of life in Pre-Federation Australia. There was a real rivalry between the most powerful colonies, New South Wales and Victoria, on trade matters. As the two largest colonies both the states believed that the new nation should follow their trade model. New South Wales had a policy of free trade where all goods coming that came into the state were not tariffed. Victoria had an opposite policy of protectionism with tariffs imposed on goods coming into the state from other colonies. This rivalry delayed the process of federation; eventually the two colonies agreed that trade between the colonies would be tariff free, but tariffs would be placed on goods from overseas (excluding the British Empire).

Rugby league (NRL) in Australia is traditionally based in Sydney, while Australian rules football (AFL) was invented and is traditionally based in Melbourne. While both sports have extended their popularity beyond their own state, the historic and spiritual centre of both sports has remained in Sydney and Melbourne respectively, and neither city has been quick to embrace the other city's dominant football code. This cultural divide is represented by the Barassi Line. There is also an increasingly spiteful rivalry between Sydney's sole A-League representative, Sydney FC, and Melbourne Victory FC. Finally, there is also an increasing rivalry between the ANZ Championship netball teams the New South Wales Swifts (previously Sydney Swifts) and Melbourne Vixens (previously Melbourne Phoenix). Also, there's a rivalry between the Sydney Kings and the Melbourne Tigers in Basketball (NBL).

Sydney, with a population of 4.4 million, is the largest city in Australia, and has been named the world's best city eight consecutive times by Condé Nast Traveler.[1] Melbourne is the second largest city with a population of 4 million and has been named the worlds most liveable city twice now and still features in the top 3, and is often regarded as the fashion, arts,[2] cultural[3] and sporting[3] capital of Australia. On the other hand, Sydney may be called the finance [4] and media capital. While Melbourne has recently overtaken Sydney in terms of domestic tourism income,[5] Sydney still remains the leading tourism destination for international tourists.

Although founded 47 years after Sydney, Melbourne transformed rapidly, and thanks to the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s, Melbourne became Australia's largest and most important city by 1865. This golden age, referred to as 'Marvellous Melbourne' was crushed by the banking collapse and depression of the 1890s, and Sydney overtook Melbourne as the largest Australian city in the early 20th century. Sydney is currently the largest and most populous city in Australia, however Sydney's growth has been deliberately curtailed by policies of the New South Wales government, including restrictions on land release for housing. If current trends continue Melbourne will again become the most populous city in Australia by 2038.[6]

Queensland and southern states

Queensland is distant from the main population and political centres of southern Australia, namely Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. At the same time it has long contributed a significant proportion of Australia's most lucrative export commodities, such as coal, beef and sugar. The disparity between Queensland's economic contribution and political influence has long caused tension. The relationship is complicated by the migration since the 1970s of many people from the southern states, who are both welcomed for the economic benefits they bring, and occasionally disparaged as "Mexicans" because they come from "south of the border". This sentiment was epitomised by Joh Bjelke-Petersen's parochialism and frequent promotion of the idea of secession of Queensland from Australia during his term as premier.

People from the southern states sometimes refer to Queensland as "The Deep North", in allusion to the Deep South of the United States and the socio-political stereotype associated with it. This was notably the case during the 1970s and early 1980s, when Joh Bjelke-Petersen was Premier, and again in the 1990s, when Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party from Queensland became a significant force in Australian politics.

New South Wales vs Queensland

The rivalry between the states of New South Wales and Queensland goes back over 100 years, stemming from the attitude that New South Wales was the "Mother Colony" while Queensland was viewed as a poorer cousin.[7]

New South Wales typically objects to the fact that tax from the state is used to subsidise tax in Queensland.[8]

This rivalry has been played out through sport over the years. In Queensland there has been a general ill-feeling over the number of sports people leaving their home state for New South Wales, particularly rugby league football players who left to play for the richer Sydney clubs. These players would then play against Queensland in interstate matches. In 1980, as a solution to this problem, the Rugby League State of Origin was created to allow Queensland players to play for their original state. This sporting contest played three times a year now exemplifies this rivalry, dominating the media and public attention in those two states during the series.[9]

Also this rivalry has a political component, with Queensland traditionally tending to state-centered conservatism and populist left politics, while New South Wales traditionally tending to classical-liberal conservatism, modern (small-l) liberal centrism, and social democratic left politics. However, in recent years, third-way centrism has taken root in both states.

Australian population as a percentage, 1881-2000

Western Australia and other states

Western Australia has the largest land area of any state of Australia, is the least densely populated and the furthest removed from the Eastern States centres of population and from the Federal Government's home in the Australian Capital Territory. The state has the fourth largest population of the Australian States and Territories with 9.8% of the national total, and about one-third the population of Victoria and New South Wales. Some Western Australian towns are located closer to its South East Asian neighbours to the North than to cities interstate; the capital Perth is closer to Jakarta than Sydney. At the same time, it has abundant natural resources and primary industries that contribute a significant part of Australia's economy, particularly in the mining sector. As at June 2006 it contributed 11.7% of the Gross State Product.[10] There is a belief that too much of the wealth of Western Australia is lost to the federal system and redistributed among the Eastern States. Only 6% of the total goods and services tax (GST) allocations to the states and territories is distributed to Western Australia.

Some Western Australians consider their state to be a "forgotten" state. Often sporting and concert events bypass the state for financial reasons because of its isolation. Western Australians have long complained of being ignored and / or taken advantage of by the other States and the Commonwealth over political and economical issues. In regards to sport, most animosity is directed to Victoria, whose more powerful Australian Football league evolved into a pseudo-national league at the detriment to the WAFL and South Australia's SANFL. It was Western Australia who came up with the State of Origin football concept that was so successful in the 1980s and continues to be in the Rugby League version.

Western Australia is the most successful cricketing state behind New South Wales yet the State team only debuted in the interstate Sheffield Shield in 1947, 55 years after the other colonies started. W.A. was only allowed to enter the competition after agreeing to pay the other states. Ill feeling because of the unfair financial burden was somewhat soothed by W.A. winning the Shield in their first season. Such unfair financial conditions were also put onto the ill-conceived Western Reds in the Australian Rugby League. The club was forced to pay for the accommodation and airfares of visiting teams along with their own when they were the greatest travelling club in the league. Though the club performed solidly on the field, financial conditions caused it to fold at the end of 1997. The club's licence and the core of the playing group moved to Melbourne where that new club won the premiership in its second season.

Western Australia was the last colony to agree to join the federation, participating only after pressures by other states. In fact, the state is not mentioned in the preamble to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (1900) as its support was given too late for the document to be redrafted. On several occasions, secessionism has been seriously proposed and was even formally pursued in a 1933 referendum which received 68% popular support, but to no effect due to the unwillingness of the British parliament to overturn the legislation enabling the formation of the Federation of Australia.

Other regions

Illawarra and other parts of New South Wales

The Illawarra region of New South Wales lies only a short distance south of Sydney; however, the socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds of its citizens has allowed for the development of bitter rivalries between the Illawarra and Sydney, the Illawarra and Newcastle, and the Illawarra and Far South Coast.

The Illawarra vs. Sydney Rivalry is founded in historical, political and, for many, personal aspects. The Illawarra northern suburbs centred on Thirroul and Corrimal have seen drastic development resulting from overpopulation in the Sydney Cumberland Basin with many local residents upset about being encroached upon by the metropolis. This same reason was one of the reasons for the 1885 Charcoal Creek riots (now Unanderra), when 18 homes built by migrants from Sydney were demolished and razed by angry Illawarrian farmers who claimed they were built illegally by "ignorant city siders who don't know our country."[11] The desire of Illawarrians to show differences between themselves and Sydneysiders has shown itself many times. In the early days of the Iraq War, Wollongong Lord Mayor Alex Darling led a delegation to the Consul General of France asking them to accept Wollongong's defection to France in protest at Sydney (and Canberra's) stance.[12]

In 1915, when the Commonwealth was looking for a port for Canberra, the Illawarra shires unanimously volunteered to become part of the territory, however the state government in Sydney refused to allow it because it would be too close to Sydney's ports and far too competitive. Jervis Bay was eventually made the site, however territorial separatism is still felt in the region today. Illawarra politicians are often very supportive of new states movements elsewhere in the state, including New England (Australia), Riverina and Bogong states movements, however no current Illwarra new state movement is known to exist at the moment.

The Newcastle vs. Wollongong rivalries exist mostly because of the history each city has as being a steel town for BHP, because of the Macedonian population of Wollongong, their sporting team rivalries, and their equidistance from Sydney.

South Australia and Victoria

Much of the rivalry is played out in sport, and primarily Australian rules football. The very first interstate match was held between the two states in 1879. "Kick a Vic" became the later South Australian catchcry in State of Origin football. South Australians became bitter when the AFL canned the State of Origin series, which has increased with the reluctance to allow South Australia to once again compete.[13] There are even some South Australians who dispute the Victorian origin of Australian Rules and claim that the game is a South Australian invention, pointing to an earliest recorded football match which was played in South Australia in 1840, nearly two decades before the first rules of the game were written, although historians later argued that this early match was instead the Irish game of caid. Nevertheless, Australian rules in South Australia was the first to form a true governing body and the SANFL remains the oldest league in the game (founded as the SAFA just over two weeks before the VFA in early 1877). Many SANFL supporters resent the expansion of the VFL to become the Australian Football League, and in particular, the poaching of players from South Australia before the first teams from Adelaide were admitted into the competition[14] Many South Australian supporters also resent the Melbourne based AFL for not recognising its history and low representation in the official Australian Football Hall of Fame. Port Adelaide Football Club's bid to defect to the AFL in 1991 was seen as a major scandal and an act of betrayal by South Australians. Many of the club's supporters resent being forced to drop its jumper design and record number of premierships to change leagues upon its final admission in 1997.

Another source of this rivalry goes back to how these states were settled. Neither state was formed as a penal colony however South Australia was self governing (as opposed to a crown-colony). South Australia received many of its settlers from Germany and Austria and German was the de facto second language in South Australia until the First World War. Victoria, on the other hand, was unilingually English speaking from settlement and had most of its early non-British settlement from Ireland. South Australia is also the only state to be a "convict free' society, seeing as that South Australia was settled by free settlers, while the other states and territories where settled because of the over-crowding of jails on England, so the other states and territories are classified as "convict" settlements.

Adelaide vs Melbourne

Within the two states there is also an inter-city rivalry between Adelaide and Melbourne.

After 11 years of the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, new Victorian premier Jeff Kennett poached the event and moved it to Melbourne in 1996, a move which many South Australians saw as arrogant.[citation needed]

A strong rivalry between the two cities exists in the A-League between Adelaide United FC and the Melbourne Victory.

For many years, Adelaide was the only capital city outside of Melbourne to retain a working part of its original tramway. The appearance of the city's flat terrain, planned street and trams sees many visitors to draw comparisons between Adelaide and Melbourne. As a result, Adelaide is often described derisively by Victorians as "Melbourne's smaller cousin".[15]

In 2008, Victorian premier John Brumby reignited the regional rivalry when he described Adelaide as a "backwater", earning scorn from South Australian premier Mike Rann.[16]

In March 2009, newly elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle created controversy when he publicly stated that "Adelaide has so little going for it that it should be shut down".[17] Mike Rann replied that Doyle was a "failed opposition leader" who got a "second prize".[18] In response, Doyle commented that he was "surprised to learn that Adelaide had television".[19]

North Queensland vs South East Queensland

There is a regional rivalry between North Queensland and Brisbane (or South East Queensland). This is partially because the distance between them, which is similar to the distance between Brisbane and other state capitals. There has been continuing proposals in the past for a separate North Queensland state.[20] Rugby league games between the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos attract large crowds.

Cairns vs Townsville

There has been a long standing rivalry between the North Queensland Cities of Cairns and Townsville. This is partly due to the similar size of the two cities, distance and slightly different local cultures. Both cities have sought to be known as the capital of the region, the major population centre and port.

Cairns is considered the aviation, agricultural & tourism hub of North Queensland whilst Townsville the administrative, financial and industrial hub.

James Cook University of North Queensland operates dual campuses in Cairns & Townsville.

Generally anything from political promises to planned developments trigger the Cairns-Townsville rivalry which can get pretty heated at times with both mayors more than likely accusing each city of government favouritism.

The Cairns Taipans vs. Townsville Crocs basketball games is one of the most popular in the National Basketball league. Both venues (Cairns Convention Center & Townsville Entertainment Center) usually attract a sell-out crowd with the home crowds taunting and booing the visiting team and their supporters.

Townsville is also home to two national sports teams representing all of North Queensland: North Queensland Cowboys and North Queensland Fury. Because of the inter-city rivalry it generally takes longer for these teams to win the hearts and minds of Cairns supporters.

Ballarat vs Bendigo

The cities of Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria have an ongoing rivalry[21][22] which dates back to the Victorian Gold Rush.[23] Throughout the 19th Century and 20th Century the two cities have been of almost identical size in terms of population and inland regional centres and defacto capitals of the Goldfields region of Victoria. Ballarat has remained slightly ahead in population terms, although growth rates between the two cities have fluctuated.[24]

The figure of the local government area of the City of Greater Bendigo (which includes nearby towns) is larger and is often cited by Bendigonians in favour of Bendigo. Bendigo remains the larger financial centre and Bendigonians also claim the warmer climate. Bendigo also claimed superior gold production. In fact gold continued to be mined in Bendigo as recently as 2007 making it the largest continuous gold producing city in Australia.[25] Both Ballarat and Bendigo have used their history and architectural heritage as major tourist drawcards and directly vie for the tourist dollar.

The modern Ballarat vs. Bendigo rivalry extends to sport with Australian rules[26] and basketball[27] teams from each town having notable contests drawing interest from the media and spectators.

Latrobe Valley

Long standing rivalries between towns and cities in the Latrobe Valley that make Latrobe City go back to 1880s, particularly between similarly sized Morwell and Traralgon[28] and to a lesser extent Moe. Latrobe City is a fairly rare case of an urban area formed incrementally from multiple similarly sized cities without a single central core. Both Morwell and Traralgon continue to claim the civic centre and most dominant in the region and the municipality City of Latrobe was partly formed to settle rivalries between the cities. This rivalry extends to sports, particularly local Australian rules football matches[29][30] and also soccer.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Committee for Melbourne: 9. Arts & Culture Capital
  3. ^ a b Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal
  4. ^ City Commerce :: Sydney Media :: City of Sydney
  5. ^ Stafford, Annabel (19 May 2008). "Now Sydney loses its tourism ascendancy". The Age (Melbourne). 
  6. ^ Jamie Walker and Natasha Robinson Population pushing Melbourne to top The Australian 12 November 2007
  7. ^ State of Origin History
  8. ^ Treasury Ministers Portal
  9. ^ Rugby League News :: League Unlimited
  10. ^ Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 2005-06 Reissue
  11. ^ Illawarra Historical Society
  12. ^ Time Magazine, Wed. 5 March 2003 "Going Gallic"
  13. ^ Cornes blasts all-star match
  14. ^ Is the AFL still the VFL ?
  15. ^ "'Backwater' slur fuels Melbourne-Adelaide rivalry". ABC News. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  16. ^ Debelle, Penelope (1 February 2008). "It's a backwater on the boil as Brumby wins a wave of support". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  17. ^ Kelton, Greg (15 March 2009). "Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle says Adelaide should be shut down". Adelaide Now.,22606,25189927-5006301,00.html. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  18. ^ Dowling, Jason (16 March 2009). "Rann fires back after Doyle's 'shut Adelaide'". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  19. ^ "Doyle’s war on Adelaide - round two". The Melbourne Leader. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  20. ^ Up north they're in revolt from
  21. ^ The challenge begins for Bendigo and Ballarat
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ . 
  30. ^ "Topsy-turvy times lead to changing of guard". The Age (Melbourne). 20 July 2003. 

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