Western Australia’s energy boom has seen the state outpace the rest of Australia in job creation and economic growth, helping the conservative Liberal-National coalition comfortably win re-election. The state’s traditional secessionist sentiment has been fuelled by Premier Colin Barnett, who has demanded a greater share of tax revenues from the federal government in Canberra.
Australia’s leading resource state has more than A$175 billion worth of projects agreed to or under construction. With the petroleum sector second only to iron ore, new gas projects planned include: the A$43 billion Gorgon gas project, the A$30 billion Browse LNG (liquefied natural gas) project and the A$29 billion Chevron-Wheatstone LNG project, in addition to a range of iron ore, gold and other projects.
Covering the whole western third of Australia, the state accounts for nearly 15 percent of national gross domestic product (GDP) along with over 40 percent of total exports. China is the state’s biggest consumer, “taking 42 percent of its output,” followed by Japan, South Korea, India and Thailand.
But with China’s slowdown, environmental concerns over onshore gas processing and the cyclical nature of the resource and energy industry, can the boom in the “wild west” endure?
‘Four more years’
“Four more years” was the chant at the Western Australian Liberal Party headquarters after the party’s poll victory earlier this month, and the sentiment was shared by the resource industry.
The federal Labor government’s mining tax and carbon price have proven deeply unpopular in Western Australia, with Barnett capitalizing on the dissatisfaction in securing control of both houses of the state’s Parliament.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) described the outcome as a “clear cut” result which “creates a platform for the government to provide renewed leadership in capturing the benefits of growth opportunities associated with the state’s oil and gas sector.”
Congratulating the premier, APPEA’s chief operating officer in the western region, Stedman Ellis said: "The oil and gas industry is a significant contributor to the Western Australian economy and it looks forward to the re-elected Liberal National Government taking early action on its post-election policy plans.”
"The industry would place particular priority on early action to further improve the Government’s commitments to strengthening a market based approach to energy policy, extending the existing approvals tracking scheme and to establishing a biodiversity, water and cultural heritage database.”