The WA Government will snub a high-powered meeting of top business, political, union and community sector leaders and bureaucrats convened by Julia Gillard this week to focus on the impacts of the two-speed economy, high dollar and skill shortages.
Despite new jobs data and economic growth figures reaffirming WA's powerhouse status last week, Colin Barnett has knocked back his invitation, even though some other State leaders are going.
And the Premier is not sending any of his Cabinet colleagues or anyone from the public service to represent the State, the list of participants released yesterday shows.
Executives from several resource companies with a big presence in WA will be attending, including Rio Tinto's Australian chief David Peever, Atlas Iron managing director Ken Brinsden and Shell's Michael Carey. The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry is among a host of business lobby groups that will also attend.
The 130-strong list of participants at the two-day forum which gets under way in Brisbane tomorrow is a who's who of corporate Australia and policymakers.
Among the company chiefs attending are Holden's Mike Devereux, Ford's Bob Graziano, Westpac's Gail Kelly and Australian Capital Equity's Ryan Stokes.
Other companies with senior executives attending include BHP-Billiton, McDonald's, Virgin Blue, Kraft, Woolworths and Toyota.
Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens and competition watchdog Rod Sims will also attend, along with a number of union chiefs including new ACTU boss Dave Oliver. Victoria's Liberal premier Ted Baillieu will attend as well as Labor's South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings. ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr will also go.
NSW is not being represented because its State budget is being handed down tomorrow, while Queensland Premier Campbell Newman will attend a Cabinet meeting instead.
Mr Barnett defended his absence, saying the forum was only convened at short notice and followed a similar conference held only a couple of months ago which Mr Porter attended. "I won't be attending because Parliament is sitting this week but we might send an observer," he said. "The State has only been asked to attend but not to play any particular role what's more relevant is COAG, which I will be attending later this month."
CCI (WA) chief James Pearson said it was disappointing the State would not be prominent at the forum."In the future it would be good to see stronger representation because WA is doing the heavy lifting for the economy at the moment," he said.
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