With more than a century of statehood now under its belt, Western Australia (WA) has moved from being one of the country’s more remote outposts to one of its leading economic centres, home to more publicly listed companies than any other city in Australia.
Its capital, Perth, is now Australia’s fourth largest city, with a population of over two million, while its mining and gas sectors are responsible for 43% of the whole country’s exports.
Some 37% of global iron ore production, 13% of world alumina production, 6% of the world’s gold output and 9% of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) output also all come from WA.
The state is now a leading agricultural centre, too, exporting A$1.7 billion of barley, wool, canola, mutton, oats and wine to China alone in 2015. Recent times have seen the state also carve out a niche for higher-end, high quality fruit and vegetables, stamping a local label on supermarket shelves from Beijing to Berlin.
All this has been achieved, too, not only in a remarkably short space of time, but by remarkably few people in a remarkably giant landscape. WA is the size of Europe, yet has a population of just 2.6 million, of whom the vast majority live in the Perth-Fremantle area, down on the southwestern coast.
This development has also been achieved despite a long-standing dependence on the notoriously cyclical commodities cycle, with natural resources by far WA’s largest industry.
Now, on the downslope of that cycle, the state is also having to cope with the inevitable completion of some of the resource sector’s enormous investment projects. Indeed, as the key mining and gas industries now move from that investment phase to an output phase, WA finds itself having to pivot towards new sectors and innovative approaches to sustain its development.
Signs are though, the state’s hard-working, can-do attitude and well-educated workforce are well equipped to take WA on to the next level.
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