The West

One of Australia’s most senior businesswomen says WA’s position as an economic powerhouse is a recent phenomenon and the State has barely started to make a net contribution to the nation’s wealth.

Jillian Broadbent, a Reserve Bank board member and non-executive director with ASX Limited and Woolworths, suggested today that WA had “for the first time” stopped being a supplicant state.

Speaking at a Perth business luncheon, Ms Broadbent, a former long-serving board member with WA-based oil giant Woodside, said WA’s success was tied to its endowment of natural resources.

She said the State’s rise was fortunate and largely thanks to the unprecedented rise of the world’s developing economies, which had huge demand for WA’s mining products.

“The divergence in economic growth between the developed and developing countries has some parallels for us at the national level and an industry level,” Ms Broadbent said.

“The changing global dynamics are seeping into the Australian economy and, in turn, into our individual states.

“Growth is now favouring the resources rich states – you’re lucky to be one of them.

“For the first time since Federation Western Australia is making a contribution to the Federal fiscal budget.”

The comments by Ms Broadbent are a veiled rebuff to claims by the WA Government, led by Premier Colin Barnett, that WA is being ripped off by the GST carve-up and the system is failed.

Mr Barnett has described the system, known as horizontal fiscal equalisation, as antiquated amid State projections its share of revenue will drop to just 29¢ of every dollar by 2014-15.

Also at today’s event, Ms Broadbent said renewable energy was “critical” to Australia’s future economic prospects and it was imperative the country be at the forefront of the industry’s development.

As the chair of the Federal Government’s $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Ms Broadbent said it was generally agreed that renewable energy was vital but views differed on how to incorporate it.

She said regardless of the debate Australia needed to transition towards it sooner rather than later otherwise the costs would be higher and the nation would miss out on developing the technology.

The West Australian

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