economy is a state economy dominated by its resources and
services sector and largely driven by the export of iron-ore, gold, liquefied natural gas and agricultural
commodites such as wheat.
Iron-ore is one of the state's leading
area of 2.5 million km2
, the state is Australia's
largest, accounting for almost one-third of the continent. Western
Australia is the nation's fourth most populous state, with 2
million inhabitants (10% of the national population).
In 2007, Western Australia's overseas exports represented 36% of
the nation's total exports. In 2006-07, Western Australia’s
gross state product
128 billion (13% of Australia's GDP
), making it the
nation's most productive State with a GSP per capita of $60,845
(compared with the national average of $47,610).
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:
- the Western Australian economy is more capital-intensive than
all the other states.
- Gross state product per
person ($60,845) is the highest of all states (2007 national
average was $47,610)
- Diversification (ie 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 (eg high oil and gas
prices help sustain export income when prices of other commodities
such as alumina and nickel fall)
- There has been strong growth in the services (finance,
insurance and property) and construction sector, which have
increased their share of economic output.
growth in global demand for minerals and petroleum, especially in
China (iron-ore) and Japan (for LNG), has ensured
economic growth above the national average.
Western Australia's overseas exports accounted for 36% of the
nation's total. The state's major export commodies include iron-ore
and liquefied natural gas
, wheat, wool, and live sheep and
In global terms, Western Australia is a significant producer of a
wide range of resource commodities. Australia is the world's
largest producer of both bauxite and alumina, with half of national
production coming from Western Australia. Alcoa's Huntly mine
provides the feedstock for its three refineries at Wagerup,
Pinjarra and Kwinana. Worsley Alumina transports bauxite from its
Boddington mine to its refinery at Worsley via a 51 km
conveyor belt. 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 mined at Collie is the main fuel for baseload electricity
generation in the state's south-west.
Australia is the
world's fifth largest exporter of LNG, most of which is produced by
the North West Shelf
Western Australia's resource commodity
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.
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 total. 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 for imports of 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 facilitites favour live animals over imports of
processed meat. Approximately 50% of Australia's live cattle
exports come from Western Australia.
WineWestern Australia also has major wine
producing regions in the South West located in Margaret River, the Great
Southern and the Swan Valley.
Several wineries produce wine for local consumption and
Western Australia has a significant fishing
industry. Products for local consumption and export include Western
, prawns, crabs, shark
and tuna, Processing is conducted along the west coast.
ceased at Albany in 1978.
South of Perth is the heavy industrial area of Kwinana
. Located here is the nation's largest oil
refinery which produces petrol and diesel for local consumption,,
plant, alumina and nickel
processing, port facilities for grain exports,
and support industries for mining and petroleum such as heavy and
light engineering, and metal fabrication. Shipbuilding (eg
Austal Ships) and associated support
industries are found at nearby Henderson, just south of Fremantle.
secondary industries include cement and building product
manufacturing, flour milling, food processing, animal feed
production, automotive body building, and printing.
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
Revenue from tourism is a strong
economic driver in many of the smaller population centres outside
of Perth, especially in coastal locations.
Foundation (1829 to 1850)
The British Government founded the Swan River Colony
in 1829 with the
intention of establishing the colony with an agricultural and
pastoral base. The poor quality land - particularly in the region
in close proximity of the coast - and an inadequate labour supply
and infrastructure hindered the expansion of the economy..
Convictism and the gold boom (1850 to 1913)
Swan River colony was not intended
to be a penal colony but, in 1848, the
introduction of convicts from Britain was sought to provide a labour pool and an income
source from the British government.
These were to be males,
so an immigration
program was also
funded to redress gender imbalance. Prior to this, population and
the economy had stagnated. By 1870 the European population had
tripled and was reaching 20 000, around half of these were
convicts. This allowed the establishment ofsmaller industries and
reduced the reliance on imports. The new labour pool was utilised
in new Public Works. The colony began attaining a greater level of
The discovery of gold in this period also increased the population.
Migration from the eastern states, where a post gold rush economic
slump existed, and from overseas increased sharply. While much of
the revenue generated was retained by the British crown, some was
directed toward creating infrastructure in the state. New towns, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, were established at the goldfield and the remote northern town of
Roebourne and its port Cossack were
boosted by the associated economic boom. The city of Perth and the port of Fremantle,
Western Australia were also invigorated by the new economy.
gave many new industries,
such as pearling
the northwest an initial boost.
World Wars and Depression (1913 to 1946)
Post War era (1946 to present)