WA has been named Australia’s worst-performing economy for the second consecutive quarter less than seven week before the state election.
Premier Colin Barnett has responded by attacking the credibility of a Commonwealth Bank-produced economic report.
WA finished in eighth place among the states and territories in economic growth, unemployment and construction work and in seventh place for business investment and housing finance.
It was below the national average on all of CommSec’s eight indicators
Labor shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said the figures were a poor reflection on the Barnett Liberal National government, including unemployment that was 46 per cent above the decade average and at 15-year highs.
“Mr Barnett and Mr (Treasruer Mike) Nahan locked into their budgets record high iron ore prices and assumed they were to stay, assumed record low unemployment inherited off the previous Labor government were here to stay and happened without any extra effort,” he told reporters.
“They are responsible for these diabolical figures contained in the CommSec report.”
Mr Barnett, who is trying to win a rare third term in the March election, attacked the credibility of the CommSec reports produced by its chief economist Craig James.
The reports compare a state’s current performance with its long-term averages, which Mr Barnett argues is unfair because the last decade includes the peak of the mining boom in WA.
“It is flawed, an appalling piece of economic analysis to try and compare Western Australia today with where it was at the peak of the commodity cycle,” he told reporters.
“We will never have the same level of investment that we had around that period.
“If you look at a 10-year period, Western Australia has outperformed Australia and the other states by a significant amount, our average growth rate was higher, our population is higher, our exports are higher, the average weekly earnings are far higher in this state.”
Mr James said the economic performance of Western Australia reflected the end of the mining construction boom.
Housing affordability continued to improve with the consolidation in home prices and the recent recovery in metal and mining prices was encouraging, he said.
“Higher mining and metal prices and record export volumes serve to boost the outlook for the Western Australian economy. Rural incomes also have scope to rise,” he said.