ADVOCACY / CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Local, Regional, State, and Commonwealth Governments through their various regional development strategic plans are far more aligned than current cooperation indicates.
The Pilbara is undoubtedly at the epicentre of Australia’s resources investment boom. In terms of iron ore, Australia accounts for 30% of global production. Of that, 94% comes from the Pilbara, a region which now also boasts 70% of Australia’s natural gas. The value can be measured as 17% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), more than 1.5 times the GDP of New Zealand and higher than 117 of the world’s 184 countries.
Before the State Government’s Royalties for Regions was implemented in 2008, much of this value was literally extracted from the ground and shipped to Canberra or Perth. Investments by the State Government through this program have redirected that value to the Pilbara, however due to the effect of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) on the Western Australian economy and government budget, the region still does not receive an investment commensurate with the wealth it generates.
The Pilbara Development Commission’s Investment Blueprint puts diversification front and centre, and rightly so, as the path to sustainable, fully transitioned regional economies. If State and Local Governments continue to believe in diversifying the Pilbara, greater coordination is required in order to unlock greater investments funds.
Funds and bodies such as the Smart Cities Program, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Infrastructure Australia, and the Build Better Regions Fund are examples of where State and Local Government cooperation, coordination, and collaboration could lead to Commonwealth funds being invested in Western Australia.
Iron ore and Liquid Natural Gas will define the Australian trade landscape and the Pilbara’s contribution to the national economy for decades to come. However the true test of the region will be whether other industries such as those from the agriculture, pastoral, aquaculture and tourism sectors will be able to spread their wings and grow, and whether the Governments will invest in and reward their highest achieving regions with growth enabling funding programs such as Royalties for Regions.
That a commitment to be made to: