Western Australian economy at crisis point say builders

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Western Australian economy at crisis point say builders

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Western Australian Master Builders Association (MBA) yesterday demanded the Carpenter Government call an emergency cabinet meeting to avoid a “state of emergency” over the energy crisis gripping WA. A MBA spokesperson said that hundreds of workers have already been stood down, many without pay, and that the cost of building material is soaring.

The Minister for Energy, Fran Logan has admitted that the gas shortage caused by Tuesday’s fire is damaging the economy as mining, manufacturing and construction industries wind back operations. Western Australia’s two major brick producing companies have shut operations and Wesbeam’s $A100 million Neerabup pine production facility has been closed, their 130 employees have been stood down.

Wesbeam chief executive James Malone said, “It’s an industrial tsunami in my view. It’s a little ripple that has very quickly had a huge multiplying effect on the whole community”.

Michael McLean, Master Building Association director said “It’s a worst-nightmare scenario, and not one we could have imagined in our wildest dreams,” building supplies are expected to start running out by the middle of next week.

Premier Carpenter has announced a meeting of ministers and industry representatives to take place on Sunday to discuss solutions to the growing crisis. Tim Wall, managing director of Apache Corporation has said Apache is conducting a worldwide search for the parts need to repair the pipeline.

Major mining companies and Apache partners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have already reported they are suffering with the loss of gas supply; the Chamber of Minerals and Energy has talked down the effect saying that they don’t expect the crisis to take the heat off the booming mining industry.

Opposition leader Troy Buswell has describe the performance of Fran Logan as “absolutely dismal” noting that Mr Logan had experienced a similar incident in January this year, when a fire at Woodsides Karratha operations had a similar effect.

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