Western Australia tops the national job market buoyed by an increase in full-time employment, Rio Tinto approves $1.5b mine-development project for its West Angelas deposits located in Pilbara, and a possible $4.7 billion GST top-up for the sate if things go to the Prime Minister’s plan; all in our monthly WA brief.
WA tops Australian jobs market
WA has emerged as the strongest job market in Australia with thousands being able to find full-time work as economic growth gains steam. According to data from the Bureau of Statistics, WA has added about 24,000 full-time jobs since March – a 2.6% increase. This is more than any other state within the same period.
Despite this growth, however, overall unemployment still remains significantly higher at 6.4% compared to a national average of 5.3%. Also, a great number of people are still searching for longer working hours in the state where under-utilisation rates went up through the August quarter.
State Treasurer, Ben Wyatt, noted that about 4,200 Western Australians had gained employment just in August with 40,000 people gaining employment since his government came to power in March 2017.
While the figures are not perfect, the treasurer indicated that the increased participation rate was a positive sign of growing confidence in the State economy.
Greenlight for Rio Tinto’s $1.5 billion Robe Valley project
Mining giant Rio Tinto has approved plans to invest $1.5 billion across its West Angelas and Robe Valley iron ore operations in the Pilbara. The investment will come through a joint venture with Japanese firms, Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal.
The partners plan to spend $967 million in developing the Mesa B, C and H deposits at Robe Valley with the remaining $579 million being used to build Deposits C and D at the already existing West Angelas operation.
Construction work for the two projects is expected to commence in 2019 and will create about 1,200 jobs with the project’s first ore due in 2021.
A possible $4.7 billion GST top-up for WA
The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has re-affirmed his intention to champion new legislation for GST reform in the country. The rejigged GST model, if signed off by parliament, could see WA get an increase of $4.7 billion in its GST share over eight years.
The proposed GST plan would first attempt to align WA GST contribution with that of other states and territories before seeking to amend the formula that had WA classified as a “benchmark” state when mining was booming.
A reform in the formula would see either New South Wales or Victoria (two of the strongest performing economies in Australia that aren’t dependent on any particular sector) become the new benchmark.
Currently, WA receives 47 cents for each dollar contributed to the Australian economy – a 13% improvement from the 34 cents allotted in the previous financial year. Under the proposed plan, that share would rise to 83 cents per dollar by 2026-2028.