This one has come up a little earlier than I expected.
Those arguing against self-government for New England used to say that new states offered no benefits. Alternatively, and at the same time, they argued that one place would benefit over another. This implies that self-government for New England must be a zero sum game; if one goes up, another must go down.
In 1967, those in Newcastle said that if Newcastle was not capital, Newcastle must suffer. Those further north who wanted decentralisation said that if the capital was in Newcastle, what's the point. We will simply have another Sydney. The first group was wrong, the second right.
Consider what would have happened in 1967 if we had self-government with Armidale as capital. Assume for the purposes of argument that state government activities were centralised in Armidale as in the current model. Armidale would now be bigger, as would the inland New England population. But would Newcastle be smaller or less developed? The answer is no. In fact, the opposite is true.
With the benefit of hindsight, I think that we can say that it is hard to identify a single thing that Newcastle would not have today, a single thing that would have been lost that was not already lost, with self-government. So no downside. On the other side, Newcastle's share of the vote, its position as New England's biggest city, would have brought benefits.
How do I know this? Well, its actually pretty self-evident.
Consider tourism. Instead of being Sydney's second cousin, a New England government would have promoted Newcastle and the Hunter as a major state tourism destination, not a sub-set of brand NSW. Or Newcastle airport. It would make no economic sense to grow Armidale airport as a major hub. It would make sense to grow Newcastle at the expense of Sydney. Similar arguments can be mounted across a range of Government activities.
However, the new staters did not stop there. They pointed to the fact that in many US states the capital was not the biggest place. Sensitive to arguments about the capital, they tried to argue for a Governmental system that would spread the benefits. From my current perspective, the arguments were not very sophisticated, but they were there.
I think that one of the things that we have to do, and this has already been reflected in comments on this series, is to work out the systems we want that might give us the best result. This links to may last post, New State arguments 5 - the power of imagination. We are not bound to any structure.
Of course, all this depends in part on there being net benefits. I will pick this one up in my next post in this series.