The West

WA is at risk of being overtaken by the Northern Territory as the nation's best performing economy, a new report claims.

The State's loss of the Inpex LNG project to Darwin is helping the NT narrow the gap, according to the author of equities trader CommSec's latest State of the States economic report, released today.

The reminder of the NT's gain at WA's expense ahead of the State election prompted Labor to defend the Carpenter government's failure to secure the $33 billion project.

CommSec ranks the States' quarterly performance across eight economic indicators and has long rated WA as the nation's best economy.

The latest report shows WA top of four categories: total construction work, retail trade, population growth and equipment investment.

It is second on economic growth and housing finance and third on unemployment.

WA is lagging behind on building new homes, where it is ranked fifth.

CommSec reaches its findings by comparing current economic figures in each jurisdiction with its average for the decade, which is considered "normal" performance.

For example, economic growth in the NT is 48 per cent above its 10-year average, while in WA it is 34 per cent above the average.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said WA would hold on to the No. 1 ranking in the short term but the Inpex project was "turbocharging" the NT's economy, which was coming off a low base.

"The NT does have momentum on its side and has potential to overtake WA at the top of the leaderboard, especially with faster growth in investment and population growth," Mr James said.

Inpex and its partner Total announced in 2008 they would build a 900km pipeline to Darwin to process gas and liquids from their Ichthys project off the West Kimberley coast, blaming the Carpenter government for creating uncertainty.

Premier Colin Barnett failed to get them to reverse the decision.

Treasurer Troy Buswell and shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt both insisted WA's economy would remain the nation's best.

"While the NT's small economy has been boosted by the impact of a single project, WA has a business investment pipeline of over a quarter of a trillion dollars and will remain the powerhouse of the national economy for the foreseeable future," Mr Buswell said.

"If the former Labor government had done its job properly, the Inpex project would be in WA."

Mr Wyatt said Inpex and Total had made "unreasonable" demands, such as wanting exclusive access to Maret Island for the gas plant instead of sharing a hub.

"I would have been surprised if any WA government would have agreed to that," he said.

The West Australian

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