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WA resources sector drives record budget surplus despite green tape, says CME

Rio Tinto's iron-ore operations in WA

Photo by Bloomberg

19th December 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) of Western Australia (WA) says the release of the WA government’s mid-year budget review is further confirmation that the state's resources sector is the powerhouse behind the state’s economy, accounting for about one-third of general revenue.

CME CEO Rebecca Tomkinson says the WA government’s $3.7-billion forecasted operating surplus was largely driven by royalties from the resources sector – underpinned by the strong performance of iron-ore bringing in an additional $3.2-billion in royalties than budgeted.

She warns, however, that the good times will not last if industry continued to be mired in "green tape bureaucracy".

“WA’s economy is the healthiest of any state and territory in Australia and the resources sector is the blood in the veins that keeps the state budget in such a robust condition,” Tomkinson says.

“These latest figures soar above the May budget projections, which is a great Christmas gift for the people of WA. But let’s be clear: if the government binds Santa and the elves in green tape, the wrapping and bow will come off those financial statements very quickly.

“There are currently $12.6-billion worth of projects in progress in WA and another $118.4-billion in early-stage development looking to advance over the next couple of years. If projects in the pipeline stall for entirely preventable reasons such as regulatory inefficiency, then naturally there’s a knock-on impact.

“Ongoing investment in our police, health system, housing, transport and renewables is at risk unless the government works fast to put its initiatives into action. An effective regulatory approvals system and policy framework should be at the top of the WA government’s to do list.

“As the Treasurer said, an outstanding budget like this one means the government can invest in what matters to Western Australians. With cost-of-living pressures and economic uncertainty weighing heavily, now is the time to maintain job security and the state’s economic strength.

“The energy transition is going to require more mining activity to deliver the critical minerals and technology required to achieve the world’s decarbonisation ambitions. This is a generational pivot point in how we approach our energy future.”

Tomkinson says CME had previously welcomed the government’s announcement of overhauls to environmental approvals and funding announcements including $708-million for transmission upgrades in the South West Interconnected System and $160-million in lease incentives to attract proponents to strategic industrial areas.

She adds that CME will continue to advocate to the government for the recommendations in its WA Pre-Budget Submission to be considered and implemented.

“The resources sector is a part of WA’s DNA and has long been part of our community as a significant contributor to our local economy and jobs,” she says.

“Chances are you or your neighbour, family member, friend or person standing behind you in the grocery line are directly or indirectly employed by the resources industry – and we all benefit from the broader economic contribution of the sector.”

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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