As if the Federal Treasurer did not have enough to worry about, with an economy stuck in the slow lane and ballooning government debt.
Now, one of Australia’s few economic bright spots – the liquefied natural gas (LNG) boom – is coming off the boil as well, thanks to the plunge in oil prices over the past year.
By some estimates, Australia is set to become the world’s largest gas exporter by 2018.
But the LNG price is linked to the oil price, and with benchmark Brent Crude halving since June, that will blow a sizeable hole in Australia’s expected LNG bounty.
Erin Parke and Gian De Poloni
High living costs and government red tape are inhibiting economic growth in Western Australia’s north, a parliamentary committee investigating the development of northern Australia has heard.
A public hearing of the Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia was held in Broome and MPs heard from more than a dozen organisations about what could be done to boost populations and productivity in the Kimberley.
Diversification essential to future growth
Challenges to establishing permanent populations
A lead and silver project planned for Western Australia’s Kimberley has received environmental approval from the State Government.
WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob last night gave the green tick of approval to the Sorby Hills project, which is planned for 50 kilometres north of Kununurra.
The CSIRO has applied for permission to grow a genetically modified (GM) crop near Kununurra.
The research body is using gene technology to try to improve the safflower plant, which produces oil used in a number of different industries.
The head of a taskforce investigating the possibility of building dams in northern Australia says the Kimberley has huge potential.
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott formed the group in January – it will look at ways of boosting agricultural production and utilising empty land in the north.
This week, the group, chaired by the Coalition’s finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, visited Derby, Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing and several pastoral stations.
The federal Opposition says it is preparing a list of potential new dam sites to take to the next federal election with major opportunities in the country’s north.
The chair of its dams and water management taskforce, Andrew Robb, is in the Kimberley this week looking at proposals such as a dam on the Margaret River near Fitzroy Crossing.
Mr Robb says it has “magnificent potential”.
He says previous water taskforces have failed to realise the true opportunities in northern Australia.
Statistics released by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food shows irrigated agriculture in the Kimberley’s Ord Valley had one of its worst years on record in 2010.
The value of agricultural production slumped to $31 million, its lowest in over a decade, and half of what the Ord achieved in 2006.