Gas crisis to cost WA $6.7bn: CCIWA

10/07/2008 - 09:41

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Western Australia's gas crisis has already cost $2.4 billion in lost turnover and is expected to rise to $6.7 billion as the state's peak business group predicts economic growth will ease this financial year.

Western Australia's gas crisis has already cost $2.4 billion in lost turnover and is expected to rise to $6.7 billion as the state's peak business group predicts economic growth will ease this financial year.

According to the latest Chamber of Commerce and Industry's WA Economic Compass report, the figures are based on data analysis and economic modeling collected from a survey of its members.

The survey canvassed the views of around 300 businesses of all sizes and operating across a range of sectors.

"CCI estimates that the gas crisis has already cost the WA economy in the vicinity of $2.4 billion," the Chamber said in its report.

"With the gas supply expected to be restricted until December 2008, CCI estimates the overall cost of the gas crisis to be around $6.7 billion."

A CCI spokesman said the figures related to lost business turnover, with the $6.7 billion number representing 3 per cent of the state's overall business output.

Partial gas supply from Apache Energy Ltd's Varanus Island gas facility is expected to resume in August following a pipeline rupture last month that cut the state's gas supply by a third.

State opposition leader Troy Buswell said today that the forecast figures proved the short-sightedness of the Carpenter government, which had failed to come up with a state energy policy over its seven years in office.

Yesterday the Liberal party released a five point plan that would lay the foundation for a state energy policy.

Meanwhile state economic growth is anticipated to ease this financial year to 5.5 per cent, down from the forecast 6.5 per cent for fiscal 2008.

CCI said the decline is a result of higher interest rates reigning in consumer spending and a pause in investment activity following the completion of a number of key projects.

For the 2010 financial year, the economy is expected to grow by 6.25 per cent on the back of an improved export performance.

"Strong growth in exports, combined with more moderate growth in imports should see net exports take the reign to be a ajor driver of growth from 2008-09," CCI said.

Domestic economic activity, as measured by growth in state final demand, increased by 1.4 per cent over the March quarter, down from an average of 2.2 per cent achieved during 2007.

Subsequently annual growth slowed to 6.7 per cent over the year to March 2008, which CCI deems a "still-strong rate".

"Growth in the March quarter was again driven by strong business investment, accounting for 90 per cent of growth in the economy during the quarter, and around half of domestic economic growth over the year," CCI said.

"A record $34.1 billion was invested by business in WA over the year to March 2008."

The volume of exports out of the state grew by 5.8 per cent, with exports 8.1 per cent higher over the year to March.

Labour market conditions are expected to remain tight over the next four years, with the number of people employed to increase by 3.5 per cent over fiscal 2008, and then 2.75 per cent in 2008-09. The unemployment rate is expected to remain around current levels of 3.25 per cent over the next two years.

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