Economic diversification on the agenda

Good for business

The Barnett Government’s 2016-17 budget has heard the business community’s call to put economic diversification on the agenda with initiatives announced in non-resources areas such as shipbuilding, tourism, agriculture, fisheries and innovation.

Treasurer Mike Nahan used WA’s pre-election budget to outline the Government’s plan to broaden the West Australian economy following the transition from construction to production in the resources sector.

“While economic growth in the State will continue to be supported by the resources sector, we have long recognised that other sectors are strategically important in terms of growth in employment opportunities and developing the State’s economic base,” he told Parliament.

Dr Nahan announced initiatives in shipbuilding, tourism, agriculture, fisheries and innovation, including $20 million over the next four years to support “the researchers, innovators and start-up businesses that have the greatest potential to strengthen, broaden and build the Western Australian economy”.

The focus on economic development across the non-resources sectors of the economy compliments the Federal government’s economic plan to ensure that Australia successfully transitions to a stronger more diversified economy.

“Western Australia is adapting to a new phase of the business cycle as some major mining projects move from construction to production and increase their focus on driving efficiencies, while a lower oil price, a more competitive exchange rate, lower rents and greater labour availability are supportive of growth in agriculture, education, tourism and health,” Dr Nahan said.

CCI’s Director of Policy Dale Leggett said CCI had long called for the Government to develop policy that assists with the diversification of the local economy to drive job creation and overall economic growth.

“CCI has been calling for the Government to implement a number of initiatives across sectors of the state’s economy where we have a comparative advantage such as Shipbuilding, Agribusiness, Tourism, International education and gas and energy,” he said.

“Our consistent message to Government ahead of the budget has been that creating opportunities in these sectors would ultimately drive improvements in productivity and economic growth and assist with future job creation.

“This is a great improvement given that economic development was not on the agenda in last year’s Budget.”

The budget provides:

  • Shipbuilding - $19 million operating subsidy support to assist the AMC following the announcement that it will be one of two shipbuilding hubs.
  • Tourism $46.6 million - The State’s tourism sector will receive $19 million over 2016-17 to 2018-19 to secure major projects within the state and a further $17 million over four years to increase destination marketing activities. An additional $11 million over 2016-17 to 2019-20 to the Perth Convention Bureau to secure national and international events through marketing the state as a preferred convention and exhibition destination.
  • Innovation - $20 million over four years to work with industries, researchers, innovators and start-ups to ensure the state has the greatest potential to strengthen, broaden and build the State economy.
  • Agriculture and food - $50 million to expand the Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture Royalties for Regions fund to $350 million to focus on a range of activities to support agriculture and food industry development through removing barriers and capture opportunities in emerging markets.
  • Fisheries - $3.6 million  comprising  $2.3 million for the  Albany shellfish hatchery and $1.3 million to expand investor-ready aquaculture zones