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The West Australian

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The West Australian
The West Australian
Front page of The West Australian
21 January 2022
TypeDaily newspaper (Mon. – Sat.)
Owner(s)Seven West Media
EditorChristopher Dore
Founded5 January 1833 (5 January 1833)
Political alignmentCentre-right[1]
Headquarters50 Hasler Road,
Osborne Park, Western Australia
Websitethewest.com.au Paid subscription required

The West Australian is the only locally edited daily newspaper published in Perth, Western Australia. It is owned by Seven West Media (SWM),[2] as is the state's other major newspaper, The Sunday Times. It is the second-oldest continuously produced newspaper in Australia, having been published since 1833. It tends to have conservative leanings, and has mostly supported the Liberal–National Party Coalition. It has Australia's largest share of market penetration (84% of WA) of any newspaper in the country.


The West Australian publishes international, national and local news. As of 23 February 2015, newsgathering was integrated with the TV news and current-affairs operations of Seven News, Perth, which moved its news staff to the paper's Osborne Park premises. SWM also publishes two websites from Osborne Park—thewest.com.au and PerthNow. The daily newspaper includes lift-outs including Play Magazine, The Guide, West Weekend, and Body and Soul. Thewest.com.au is the online version of the daily newspaper, available only to subscribers.

Political leanings[edit]

The West Australian leans right wing politically.[3] An editorial published on 25 April 2022 claimed that the newspaper was "economically conservative, but socially progressive".[4] For every federal election from 1922 to 1969, the newspaper endorsed the conservative Coalition.[5] At the state election held in March 2017, the newspaper's editorial endorsed the Australian Labor Party opposition, led by Mark McGowan, over the LiberalNational government led by Colin Barnett. The West Australian endorsed the Coalition at the 2019 Australian federal election,[6] Labor in the 2021 state election,[7] and the Coalition at the 2022 Australian federal election.[8] During the COVID-19 pandemic, The West Australian supported the McGowan Labor Government up until 20 January 2022, when the decision was made to delay the reopening of interstate borders, locking Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes, who was on an overseas trip, out of the state. Following this, the newspaper has been highly critical of McGowan's COVID-19 response.[9]


Formerly a conservative "daily paper of record", The West has adopted the style of a popular tabloid. It has very ably utilised colour printing and its monopolist status to maximise display advertising including the use of multi-page advertorial supplements and loose inserts. Advertising is frequently accorded priority over news on the front page by means of a four-page wrap-around cover section.[10]


As of January 2015, refraining from reporting greatly reduced print circulation, the paper claimed "readership across print and online platforms" of 1.8 million per month[11] (a daily average of less than 70,000). The West Australian recorded a significant fall of nearly 25% in profit in June 2016. A serious drop in circulation was also reported, with average weekday circulation down from 157,000 to 145,000, while the weekend edition averaged 241,000, down from 258,000. Cost-saving measures, such as staff redundancies, were attributed to the poor performance.[12]

In 2021, audited "cross-platform readership" of The West and The Sunday Times combined was 4.1 million per month.[13] In February 2022, Seven West Media WA chief executive Maryna Fewster announced growth to 4.5 million per month boosted by (potentially duplicated) counts of hits on subsidiary websites including PerthNow, the video program Up Late, morning radio show The West Live, and sundry video packages launched on thewest.com.au.[14]


The West Australian used this Fokker 27 in the mid-1990s to deliver its newspapers on a nightly flight to the north of Western Australia.

The West Australian was owned by the publicly listed company West Australian Newspapers from the 1920s. In 1969, the Melbourne based Herald & Weekly Times bought WAN and published the paper until 1987 when it was sold to Robert Holmes à Court's Bell Group, when the remainder of H&WT was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.[15][16] The following year Alan Bond, through Bond Corporation, gained control of Bell Group and hence the paper. This ownership structure only survived for a few years until the collapse of Bond Corporation. A newly formed company, West Australian Newspapers Holdings, then purchased the paper from the receivers before being floated in an oversubscribed $185 million public offering.[17] The company was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange on 9 January 1992.[18] A management fee of $217,000 and underwriting/brokers handling fee of $1.9 million were paid to companies associated with former short-term directors John Poynton and J. H. Nickson.[19] After acquiring the Seven Media Group in April 2011, West Australian Newspapers Holdings became Seven West Media, Australia's largest diversified media business.[20][21]


Masthead from the Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 1 June 1833

The West Australian traces its origins to The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, the first edition of which appeared on 5 January 1833. Owned and edited by Perth postmaster Charles Macfaull, it was originally a four-page weekly.[22][23] It was, at first, published on Saturdays, but changed to Fridays in 1864. From 7 October 1864 it was known as The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Times and was published by Arthur Shenton, until 24 March 1871, after which the publisher was Joseph Mitchell, until 29 September 1871. The new publisher, M. Shenton, remained in place until 26 June 1874. when it was bought by a syndicate who renamed it The Western Australian Times and who in September 1874 increased production to two editions a week.[22] On 18 November 1879, it was relaunched as The West Australian.[24] In October 1883, production was increased to three editions per week; two years later it became a daily publication. The proprietors of the West Australian at that time also inaugurated the Western Mail, in 1885. Initially, delivery of the paper beyond settled areas was problematic, but the growth and development of the rural railway system in the early 1900s facilitated wider circulation.

In September 2015 the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission approved the acquisition of The Sunday Times, which would give Seven West Media a monopoly over major newspapers in the state.[25] Finalisation of the deal, which includes the website PerthNow, was announced by The West Australian on 8 November 2016.[26] In May 2019, SWM acquired Community Newspaper Group, adding 13 titles to the newspaper suite in WA, and have since moved all of the community websites onto the PerthNow website.[27][28] In June 2019, The West Australian began putting some of its website content behind a subscription paywall.[29]


Clock on the former premises, Newspaper House, St Georges Terrace

In 1933, The West Australian moved to the purpose-built Newspaper House on St Georges Terrace in Perth.[22] It included an office and publishing plant, and was a prominent landmark in the life of the city and state for more than 50 years. Newspaper House was vacated in the mid-1980s for the ill-fated "Westralia Square" redevelopment which was completed in 2012 under the name Brookfield Place. The editorial staff was temporarily relocated in a nearby office building. Recognised as part of an important heritage precinct, Newspaper House was scheduled for preservation and refurbishment. In 1988, larger and more modern accommodation for the paper's printing presses was commissioned in Osborne Park. In 1998, the editorial operations also moved to the Osborne Park complex.[22]


In the 1940s and later, the newspaper published more than twenty editions of Charles Gardner's West Australian wildflowers.[30] At various stages in its history, the newspaper had a periodicals division that has published calendars,[31] gardening books,[32][33] and collections of historical photographs.[34][35]

In 1954, to celebrate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, a souvenir program was produced.[36]

The front page of the newspaper which was published bilingually.

On 27 May 2022, as part the National Reconciliation Week, the paper under the title of Marawar Boodjara, published a special wraparound where the front cover was written bilingually in the local Indigenous language of the area, Noongar and English. This was helped by the newspaper's resident Noongar linguist, Alison Nannup.[37] This received praised from many quarters including the prime minister.[38] This was repeated the next year, on 28 May 2023.[39]

Photographic archives[edit]

In the 1990s, a series of pictorial books from the photographic archives were produced:

  • The Fifties[40]
  • The Sixties[41]
  • A Small War[42]
  • The Migrant Album[43]
  • No Survivors[44]
  • Stage, Screen & Stars[45]
  • Decades of Royalty[46]
  • Four-wheeled pioneers[47]



The first book published in Western Australia, Report of the Late Trial for Libel!!! Clarke versus MacFaul (Fremantle, 1835),[53] by the future editor of the Swan River Guardian William Nairne Clark, concerned a libel case brought against the editor of the Perth Gazette, Charles Macfaull, by the accusations of incompetence and impugned character printed in regard to a Captain Clark.[54] A letter of apology was refused and the court awarded damages of £27 to the captain of the vessel. Macfaull maintained his reputation although his resources were significantly reduced by the verdict.[55]

In February 2005 former Australian Labor prime minister Bob Hawke labelled the paper "a disgrace to reasonable objective journalism".[56] Academic Peter van Onselen substantiated this attack, identifying 10 pro-Opposition front-page headlines in the lead-up to the 2005 state election, but no pro-Government headlines.[57]

In May 2007, then attorney-general and health minister in the State Labor government, Jim McGinty, described the newspaper as "the nation's most inaccurate and dishonest newspaper". He went on to attack the editor, Paul Armstrong, saying that "the board of West Australian Newspapers needs to sack the editor. It is personally driven by a particular individual". Armstrong responded by saying he "could not give a fat rat's arse" about Mr McGinty's comments and was then virulently attacked by premier Alan Carpenter, whose government the paper continued to denigrate until its defeat at the 2008 election.[58][59]

On 8 December 2014 the management of West Australian Newspapers announced that printed editions of The West Australian would no longer be available in retail outlets located north of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, including towns such as Derby, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Wyndham and Kununurra, due to the expense of transporting and delivering printed newspapers.[60]

Notable contributors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant" (PDF). Joshua S. Gans; Andrew Leigh. Australian National University. 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  2. ^ Seven West Media Limited (SWM) at Australian Securities Exchange
  3. ^ Simons, Margaret (26 June 2007). "Crikey Bias-o-meter: The newspapers". Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  4. ^ De Ceglie, Anthony (25 April 2022). "Cruel reality of confected trans sports outrage". The West Australian.
  5. ^ Young, Sally (2019). Paper Emperors: The rise of Australia's newspaper empire. University of New South Wales Press. pp. 117, 121. ISBN 9781742244471.
  6. ^ "Bill has shown he can lead, but Libs have proven record for WA". The West Australian. 18 May 2019. p. 48.
  7. ^ "The West Australian". 13 March 2021. p. 2.
  8. ^ De Ceglie, Anthony (21 May 2022). "Editorial: It's Morrison, but with some crucial caveats". The West Australian. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  9. ^ Hewett, Jennifer (6 February 2022). "Morrison backs McGowan's numbers over business". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  10. ^ E.g., the first nine editions published in September 2023 included four front-page wrap-round advertising sections, verifiable ahere behind paywall.
  11. ^ Rate Card 2014-2015 at official website. Retrieved 3 January 2015
  12. ^ "Profits plunge at The West Australian newspaper as circulation, advertising drop". Australia: ABC News. 16 September 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  13. ^ "More than 20 million Australians continue to read news". Roy Morgan. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  14. ^ "West Australian Newspapers enjoys stunning cross-platform audience growth in latest Roy Morgan figures". Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  15. ^ Herald acceptances exceed 66pc The Canberra Times 4 September 1969 page 29
  16. ^ Bond, Bell and Holmes a Court:Bell at Ketupa.net media industry reference
  17. ^ "175 years of The West Australian". Archived from the original on 15 January 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  18. ^ WA paper has good opening on market The Canberra Times 10 January 1992 page 9
  19. ^ West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited Annual Report, 1992, p 33
  20. ^ West Australian Newspapers to buy Seven Media MarketWatch, 20 February 2011
  21. ^ Completion of Acquisition of Seven Media Group West Australian Newspapers Holdings 21 April 2011
  22. ^ a b c d "History of The West". The West Australian. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  23. ^ The West Australian, 17 November 1979, p.39
  24. ^ "The West Australian". 18 November 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  25. ^ "Sunday Times sale to The West Australian owner Seven West Media receives ACCC approval". Australia: ABC News. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  26. ^ "SWM finalises purchase of The Sunday Times". The West Australian, 8 November 2016, page 3
  27. ^ Hastie, Hamish (27 May 2019). "Empire grows as Seven West Media takes control of Community Newspapers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  28. ^ "Bold new direction for suburban newspapers". PerthNow. 25 June 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  29. ^ Kelly, Vivienne (19 June 2019). "The West Australian introduces digital subscriptions and paywall". Mumbrella. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  30. ^ Gardener, C. A. (Charles Austen); Dell, Edgar (1950), West Australian wild flowers (7th ed.), West Australian Newspapers Ltd, retrieved 28 August 2021
  31. ^ West Australian Newspapers. Periodicals Division (1955), The West Australian calendar : 1956, West Australian News, Ltd. – Periodicals Division, retrieved 28 August 2021
  32. ^ West Australian Newspapers. Periodicals Division (1974), Gardening in Western Australia : constructive ideas and helpful advice for the home gardener by some of the State's best-known authorities, Periodicals Division, West Australian Newspapers, ISBN 978-0-909699-06-2
  33. ^ West Australian Newspapers. Periodicals Division (1974), West Australian gardening : fourteen well-known gardening authorities give their expert advice on gardening in West Australia, West Australian Newspapers Ltd., Periodicals Division (published 1978), ISBN 978-0-909699-12-3
  34. ^ West Australian Newspapers. Periodicals Division; West Australian Newspapers. General Printing Division; West Australian Newspapers (1974), Flashbacks of Western Australia, Periodicals and General Printing divisions of West Australian Newspapers, ISBN 978-0-909699-10-9
  35. ^ Edmonds, Jack (1979), Swan River colony : life in Western Australia since the early colonial settlement, West Australian Newspapers Ltd. : Periodicals Division, retrieved 28 August 2021
  36. ^ West Australian Newspapers. Periodicals Division, (issuing body.) (1954), Visit to Western Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1954 : souvenir programme, retrieved 28 August 2021
  37. ^ "Why The West Australian has a bilingual cover today". The West Australian. 26 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  38. ^ "The West's front page draws chorus of praise". The West Australian. 27 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  39. ^ The West Australian [@westaustralian] (28 May 2023). "Tomorrow's second annual dual Noongar-English front page of The West Australian marking National Reconciliation Week 2023. This special edition has been co-edited by Indigenous leaders Colleen Hayward and Clinton Wolf" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  40. ^ West Australian Newspapers; West Australian (1991), The Fifties : a photographic recollection, West Australian Newspapers Ltd, retrieved 28 August 2021
  41. ^ West Australian Newspapers (1993), The Sixties : a magical photographic record of the triumphs and challenges of the 1960s – and the ways Western Australians embraced an amazing decade!, West Australian Newspapers Pty Ltd, retrieved 28 August 2021
  42. ^ Hummerston, David; West Australian Newspapers (1991), A Small war : corvettes : the 39 through Fremantle, Western Australian Newspapers, retrieved 28 August 2021
  43. ^ West Australian (1990), The migrant album : a photographic record of Australia's migrants of the post-war years, The West Australian, retrieved 28 August 2021
  44. ^ West Australian Newspapers (1991), No survivors : HMAS Sydney : the 50-year-old mystery of Australia's greatest naval tragedy, West Australian Newspapers, retrieved 28 August 2021
  45. ^ West Australian Newspapers (1993), Stage, screen and stars, West Australian Newspapers, retrieved 28 August 2021
  46. ^ West Australian Newspapers (1992), The Decades of royalty : Western Australia's unique relationship with the House of Windsor, West Australian Newspapers Limited, retrieved 28 August 2021
  47. ^ Whitington, Mike; West Australian Newspapers (1992), Four-wheeled pioneers : how the motorcar won the west, West Australian Newspapers, retrieved 28 August 2021
  48. ^ a b c d 175 years of the West Australian at Australian-Media.com.au
  49. ^ a b Chris Thomson West Australian editor Armstrong shunted The Age BusinessDay 16 December 2008
  50. ^ Nick Perpitch Brett McCarthy goes from Sunday to weekdays at The West Australian The Australian 16 March 2009 Archived 14 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ "7 News director Craig McPherson quits following a tumultuous few weeks for the network". ABC News. 29 April 2024. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  52. ^ Craig McPherson steps down from Seven, successor named Mumbrella 29 April 2024
  53. ^ Both names are noted misspelled in the title, 'Clarke' is Captain Clark and 'Macfaul' is Charles Macfaull (de garis, Bolton, LISWA).
  54. ^ G. C. Bolton, 'Clark, William Nairne (1804–1854)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1966. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  55. ^ Steve Howell and Jane Jones, Our Prized Possessions – Rarities Revealed : An Exhibition of WA Stories and Treasure (30 June to 26 August 2007).
  56. ^ Price, Matt (21 February 2005). "Bias grabs the headlines as state's media go to war". The Australian. p. 4.
  57. ^ van Onselen, Peter. "Western Australia's State Election: Democracy in Action?" (PDF). Democratic Audit of Australia (February 2005). Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  58. ^ Chris Merritt (17 May 2007). "Fire editor or 'no shield'". perthnow (news.com.au). Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2007.
  59. ^ Margaret Simons (22 May 2007). "Paul Armstrong: the wild West Australian under attack". Crikey. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  60. ^ Natalie Jones (8 December 2014). "The West Australian cuts distribution, says 'too expensive' to deliver newspapers to remote areas". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  61. ^ Gold Walkley Honour Roll at Walkley Foundation

Further reading[edit]

  • Haig, Ross, ed. (1984). The Years of News from The West Australian and Perth Daily News. Perth, Western Australia: St George Books. ISBN 0-86778-016-9.
  • (1933) West Australian – history of the newspaper, printing techniques and building (Photographs first used in The West Australian on 10 May 1910) West Australian, 5 January 1933, Centenary issue, p. 3,8e,21d

External links[edit]