The West Australian

The West Australian

The West Australian (often simply called The West) is the only locally-edited daily newspaper published in Perth, Western Australia, and is owned by ASX-listed West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd (ASXWAN). The West is published in tabloid format, as is the state's other major newspaper, The Sunday Times, a News Limited publication. It is the second-oldest continuously-produced newspaper in Australia, having been published since 1833. The West has strong conservative leanings, and has consistently supported the Coalition.[1]



Based on surveys to June 2010, the proprietors claimed a weekday circulation of 203,304 and a Saturday-edition circulation of 333,768.[2] The weekday average is significantly boosted by an enlarged classified-advertising section for motor vehicles each Wednesday.

In October 2010, the paper ended its long-term policy of not directly competing for Sunday readership and advertising by re-branding its former Saturday editions as "a weekend read" under the masthead The Weekend West.[3] In consequence, The West Australian was reduced to weekdays-only circulation.

A digital archive subscription enables past editions from July 2004 to be accessed for $220 per month or $2,200 p.a.[4]


The newspaper contains international, national and local news. Opinion columnists include Zoltan Kovacs, Paul Murray and a variety of writers syndicated from Fairfax Media including Gerard Henderson, Danny Katz and Brian Toohey .

The paper publishes a supplement titled WestWeekend Magazine which is included as an insert in The Weekend West. The publisher also operates a "breaking news" website ( In April 2008, the website was expanded to include a video news service called West TV, to compete with similar services from Fairfax Media and News Limited.


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.[5] It was, at first, published on Saturdays, but changed to Fridays in 1864. Eventually renamed The Perth Gazette and was published by Arthur Shenton, until 26 June 1874, when it was bought by a syndicate who renamed it The Western Australian Times and increased production to two editions a week. On 18 November 1879, it was relaunched as The West Australian. 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.


Newspaper House, the former office and publishing plant of The West on St Georges Terrace, across the road from the Palace Hotel, was a prominent landmark in the life of the city and state for over 50 years.[6] It was vacated in the mid-1980s as part of the ill-fated "Westralia Square" redevelopment. The newspaper's editorial staff was temporarily relocated in rented office space nearby in St George's Terrace. Recognised as part of an important heritage precinct,[7] 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.[8] Ten years later, the editorial operations also moved to the Osborne Park complex.[9][10]

Corporate ownership

The 'West Australian was owned by the publicly-listed company West Australian Newspapers Ltd from the 1920s. In 1969, the Melbourne based The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd bought WAN and published the paper until 1987 when it was sold to Robert Holmes à Court's Bell Group in 1987 when the remainder of H&WT was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.[11] 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. [9] Chairman Trevor Eastwood announced in the annual report that the company was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASXWAN) on 9 January 1992. A management fee of $217,000 and underwriting/brokers handling fee of $1,981,136 were paid to companies associated with former short-term directors John Poynton and J. H. Nickson.[12]

West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd

In addition to The West, West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited owns a number of other media outlets.[13]

  • 23 regional newspapers and magazines
  • 4 business directories across the State
  • the Streetsmart and Travellers Atlas street directories
  • the quarterly Vita and Habitat & Lifestyle magazines
  • The Quokka, a classified-advertising weekly[14]
  • Two commercial printing plants
  • a regional radio network in the State's north

In September 2007, WAN sold a 50% interest in the Hoyts Cinemas Group.[15]

Seven Network's 2008 battle for control

In March 2008, major shareholder Seven Network Limited initiated an extraordinary general meeting to consider removal of all non-executive directors.[16] Seven Network's chairman Kerry Stokes criticised the WAN board's "lack of leadership". A new website ("Refresh The West") was simultaneously launched, directly targeting the board of West Australian Newspaper Holdings (WAN).[17] At a business breakfast in April, Stokes held up a copy of The Sunday Times and said it was a superior newspaper that The West should try to emulate.[18]

The shareholder meeting was held on 23 April 2008, preceded by reports that Stokes was seeking two seats on the WAN board.[19]. The motion on notice was defeated by proxy votes.[20]

As a result of subsequent negotiations, a joint statement was issued on 16 September 2008 saying the WAN board had been increased from five to seven members, the two new seats being taken up by Kerry Stokes and fellow Seven director Peter Gammell.[21] On 3 December 2008, Stokes achieved total victory when WAN's chief executive, chairman and two independent directors quit en masse.[22] Stokes became chairman and, within a fortnight, The West Australians controversial editor Paul Armstrong was sacked. He was eventually replaced by former Sunday Times editor Brett McCarthy on 15 March 2009.[18] Seven's managing director Chris Wharton filled the CEO position and four additional directors were appointed.[23] The group's editor-in-chief is Bob Cronin[24] whose authoritarian style caused resentful employees to nickname him "Cronin the Barbarian" in the 1980s.


  • 1833-1846 Charles Macfaull[25]
  • 1847-1871 Arthur Shenton[25]
  • 1871-1874 Mercy Shenton
  • 1874-1879 Rev. C. G. Nicolay and Roland Jones; Henry Hullock
  • 1879-1887 Sir Thomas Cockburn-Campbell[25]
  • 1887-1916 John Winthrop Hackett[25]
  • 1916-1927 Alfred Langler
  • 1927-1951 Charles Patrick Smith
  • 1951-1956 James Edward Macartney
  • 1956-1969 W. T. G. (Griff) Richards
  • 1969-1972 F. B. (Fred) Morony
  • 1972-1983 M. C. (Bon) Uren
  • 1983-1987 D. B. (Don) Smith
  • 1987-1988 R. E. (Bob) Cronin
  • 1988-1990 Don Baker
  • 1990-2000 Paul Murray
  • 2000-2003 Brian Rogers
  • 2003-2008 Paul Armstrong[24]
  • 2008-2009 R. E. (Bob) Cronin[24]
  • 2009-present Brett McCarthy[18]


The paper was labelled in February 2005 by former prime minister Bob Hawke as "a disgrace to reasonable objective journalism".[26] Academic Peter van Onselen substantiated this attack, identifying 10 pro-Opposition front page headlines in the leadup to the 2005 state election, but no pro-Government headlines.[27]

In May 2007, then attorney-general and health minister 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[28] and was then virulently attacked by premier Alan Carpenter[29]

On 15 February 2008, The West reported that McGinty's staff had banned its reporters from attending his press conferences. Unsurprisingly, The West continued to denigrate Carpenter's government until its defeat at the 2008 election in September.

Some notable former employees

See also


  1. Simons, Margaret (26 June 2007). . Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  2. Melinda Varley West Australian rebrands weekend masthead B&T magazine, 21 October 2010
  3. Corporate and Personal Subscription to Archive Digital Editions at official website
  4. The West Australian, 17 November 1979, p.39
  5. Newspaper House, home of The West Australian
  6. Heritage Council report
  7. Newspaper House - building in Perth to be vacated by the West Australian from March 1988, photographs and reminiscences Newspaper House news, March 1988, p.1+
  8. a b
  9. 175 years of Headlines
  10. Bond, Bell and Holmes a Court:Bell at media industry reference
  11. West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited Annual Report, 1992, p 33
  12. About Us The West official site
  13. About "The Quokka"
  14. PBL and WAN sell Hoyts for $440m
  15. Seven Network Limited calls for removal of WAN Board
  16. Refresh The West Channel 7 campaign website, which was reduced after the victory to a message of thanks to supporters.
  17. a b c
  18. Stokes bids for seat on WA Newspapers board ABC The 7.30 Report, 23 April 2008
  19. Cardy T and AAP Kerry Stokes concedes defeat in bid for WAN board seats PerthNow, 23 April 2008
  20. Ricketson M Stokes gets his seat on West Australian board Sydney Morning Herald BusinessNow, 17 September 2008
  21. How The West Australian was won by Kerry Stokes The Australian, 4 December 2008
  22. Chris Wharton – Chief Executive Officer Corporate information on official website
  23. a b c Chris Thomson West Australian editor Armstrong shunted The Age BusinessDay 16 December 2008
  24. a b c d 175 years of the West Australian at
  25. Price, Matt (21 February 2005). . The Australian: p. 4. 
  26. van Onselen, Peter. . Democratic Audit of Australia (February 2005). Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  27. Chris Merritt (17 May 2007). . perthnow (,21598,21747158-2761,00.html. Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  28. Margaret Simons (22 May 2007). . Retrieved 5 May 2009.