The mining boom has made some of WA’s resource centres stronger and better prepared but manufacturing areas are struggling with post-boom blues, a report has found. 

The Productivity Commission draft report into regional economies suggests centres such as Port Hedland are among the best placed to adapt to future change, even after the mining construction boom ended.

Other mining centres including Karratha and Kalgoorlie were also well placed to build on the gains they made during the boom.

Commissioner Paul Lindwall said the use of fly-in, fly-out workers and a highly flexible workforce had enabled the benefits of the boom to be spread widely.

This meant Perth’s golden triangle, northern beach suburbs and areas around Fremantle were in a position to continue to grow.

While there had been much concern about some resource hubs, Mr Lindwall said many were now in a good position to continue developing.

 “While incomes and house prices in some locations rose and then fell back in spectacular fashion, it appears that most mining regions are resilient with a relatively high capacity to adapt,” he said.

Work done for the commission found the median house prices in Port Hedland and Karratha are now back to where they were in 2005. Port Hedland’s median house price peaked at more than $1.2 million in 2012 but now sits a little above $400,000.

While many areas benefited from the boom because of their exposure to the resources sector, the commission did find those at arms length are now in a weaker position.

The report found that areas reliant on manufacturing, such as parts of Rockingham and Armadale, and remote mining areas including Leonora and Newman, would struggle in the post-boom environment and Mandurah, with its higher proportion of retirees, was also exposed to downturns.

The situation for farming areas, particularly the State’s Wheatbelt, was also tough.

Small regional farming towns are likely to get even smaller while properties themselves are tipped to get larger, less reliant on agricultural workers and more dependent on technology.
Mr Lindwall said this trend played directly into the concerns of those remaining residents.

 “These changes have affected the social fabric of these communities and naturally contributes to a feeling of being left behind,” he said.