Western Australia's economy is largely
driven by extraction and processing of a diverse range of mineral
and petroleum commodities. The structure of the economy is closely
linked to the abundance of natural resources found in the State,
providing a comparative advantage in resource extraction and
processing. As a consequence:
- Western Australia contributes an
estimated 58% of Australia's Mineral and Energy Exports.
Potentially earning up to 4.64% of Australia's total GDP.
Gross state product per person ($70,009) is higher than any
other state and well above the national average ($54,606)
- Diversification (i.e. a greater
range of commodities) over the past 15 years has provided
a more balanced production base and less reliance on just a few
major export markets, insulating the economy from fluctuations
in world prices to some extent.
- There has been strong growth in
the services (finance, insurance and property) and construction
sector, which have increased their share of economic output.
- Recent growth in global demand
for minerals and petroleum, especially in China (iron-ore) and
Japan (for LNG), has ensured economic growth above the national
Western Australia's overseas exports
accounted for 46% of the nation's total. The state's major export
commodities include iron-ore, alumina, nickel, gold, ammonia, wheat,
wool, live sheep and cattle, and crude oil and liquefied natural gas
Western Australia is a major
extractor of bauxite, which is also processed into alumina at four
refineries providing more than 20% of total world production. It is
the world's third-largest iron-ore producer (15% of the world's
total) and extracts 75% of Australia's 240 tonnes of gold. Diamonds
are extracted at
Argyle diamond mine in far north of the Kimberley region. Coal
Collie is the main fuel for baseload electricity generation in
the state's south-west.
Agricultural production in WA is a
major contributor to the state and national economy. Although
tending to be highly seasonal, 2006–07 wheat production in WA was
nearly 10 million tonnes, accounting for almost half the nation's
and providing $1.7 billion in export income.
Other significant farm output
includes barley, peas, wool, lamb and beef. There is a high level of
overseas demand live animals from WA, driven mainly by South East
Asia's feedlots and Middle Eastern countries, where cultural and
religious traditions and a lack of storage and refrigeration
facilities favour live animals over imports of processed meat.
Approximately 50% of Australia's live cattle exports come from
Resource sector growth in recent
years has resulted in significant labour and skills shortages,
leading to recent efforts by the state government to encourage
interstate and overseas migration. According to the 2006 census,[the
median individual income was A$500 per week in Western Australia
(compared to A$466 in Australia as a whole). The median family
income was A$1246 per week (compared to A$1171 for Australia).
Recent growth has also contributed to significant rises in average
property values in 2006, although values plateaued in 2007. Perth
property prices are still the second highest in Australia behind
Sydney, and high rental prices continue to be a problem.
Located south of Perth, the heavy
industrial area of
Kwinana has the nation's largest oil refinery which produces
petrol and diesel for local consumption,[along
with iron, alumina, and nickel processing plants, port facilities
for grain exports, and support industries for mining and petroleum
such as heavy and light engineering, and metal fabrication.
Austal Ships) and associated support industries are found at
Henderson, just south of Fremantle. Significant secondary
industries include cement and building product manufacturing, flour
milling, food processing, animal feed production, automotive body
building, and printing.
In recent years, tourism has grown in
importance, with significant numbers of visitors to the state coming
from the UK and Ireland (28%), other European countries (14%)
Singapore (16%), Japan (10%) and Malaysia (8%).
Revenue from tourism is a strong economic driver in many of the
smaller population centres outside of Perth, especially in coastal
Western Australia has a significant
fishing industry. Products for local consumption and export include
Western Rock Lobsters, prawns, crabs, shark and tuna, as well as
pearl fishing in the
Kimberley region of the state. Processing is conducted along the
west coast. Whaling was a key marine industry but ceased at Albany