Journal article

Regional development, redistribution and the extraction of mineral resources: The Western Australian Goldfields as a resource bank

1 Jan 2013

The first decade of the twenty-first century was one of the most prosperous in Australia's history. The boom was led by a buoyant minerals and energy resource sector, contributing to high levels of economic growth, rising real wages and low unemployment. Yet, as with the nation's previous resources booms, there were marginal transformations in the economies of those regions from which the minerals were extracted. Overwhelmingly, the wealth generated by the resource boom has concentrated in the cities. Moreover, public expenditure in resource regions also remains comparatively low, and indeed tend to reproduce a development framework oriented towards extraction rather than diversification. This paper employs elements of Innis' staples thesis to help explain this pattern of regional development, and in particular the relatively low levels of reinvestment in resource peripheries. Drawing on the notion of a 'resource bank', we contend that resource regions are often viewed as a reserve of latent wealth that can be drawn upon for the benefit of the urban 'core'. Yet, we also highlight emerging strategies aimed at overcoming this and that seek to return a greater proportion of wealth to those regions from which it was extracted.

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