The WA Liberal Party says building economic and cultural ties with Asia and Africa will be priorities if it is re-elected in the March state election, while the opposition has pledged to focus on bringing more international visitors to our shores.
Premier Colin Barnett said the Liberals would establish a state government office in Nairobi, Kenya to add to a network of 10 government outposts in strategic locations, if it is successful in next month’s poll.
“Seventy per cent of Australian mining companies in Africa are from WA,” Mr Barnett said. “Some 170 Western Australia-based companies are involved in mining and exploration and production with 650 projects across 42 African nations.”
Mr Barnett said the Liberals would prepare an international relations policy with a specific focus on major trading partners in Asia, with a future focus on emerging nations of the Indian Ocean rim.
“We sit on the edge of Asia and our natural advantage means our export capacity is higher and our connections are stronger with our neighbouring nations than any other state in Australia,” the premier said.
“We have some leverage and we will use it. It makes sense to concentrate and show respect to the part of the world where we have already created significant and strong relationships.”
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has pledged to double Tourism WA’s interstate marketing budget increase its regional tourism marketing budget to $3 million if Labor wins next month’s poll.
Labor will spend an additional $7.5 million on tourism marketing over three years if successful, while also providing an additional $3 million to regional tourism organisations.
Mr McGowan also promised a further $2.25 million to be spent marketing WA to international students.
Mr McGowan said tourists add nearly $8 billion in direct and indirect spending to the state’s economy, including nearly $3 billion in export earnings from international visitors and students.
“Tourism-related industries employ more than 100,000 people throughout the state,” Mr McGowan said.
“Yet under the Liberal-National government, Western Australia has the second lowest proportion of budget expenditure on tourism of any state in Australia.
“WA Labor will make it a priority to diversify WA’s economy and generate jobs in the tourism industry, both in Perth and the regions.”