For a while there, passers by might have thought there was something important at a federal political level about what Brian Burke and associates were up to, but all the headlines were just a sideshow, a distraction, while the main game continues in the wild, wild west.

The real crime is that WA Inc has proven to be indelible. For all the sound and fury of a royal commission and the on-going CCC, the stain clearly runs very deep in what passes for Perth society, let alone the tawdry thing called sandgroper politics.

It’s been ever thus at the frontier when very big money is there for the taking, or giving. But the evident flaw in the character of WA eventually comes at a cost to the state.

During the height of “Last Resort” Laurie Connell’s reign in the 80s, one of the nation’s biggest funds mangers simply declined to invest there, such was the corruption. That was when crooks could blatantly fix horse races and no-one even seemed to care.

Brian Burke’s saga shows plenty of people still don’t care much about minor matters such as ethics and due process, but the cost is again showing.

The Oz has the story of a Canadian resources industry survey that shows WA is regarded as the worst state in which to do business:

The state ranks 18th – well below the rest of Australia and most of Canada – because of low marks on regulatory consistency and ministerial interference.

Fraser Institute, a Canadian research firm, polled more than 3000 mining bosses worldwide in its latest industry survey, and those who responded represent about 14.5 per cent of global exploration spending last year.

Survey responses were kept anonymous but one exploration company manager said: “WA’s state Government cancels licences at ministers’ discretion and changes gas taxing policies after discoveries. Database and titles systems (are) a disgrace.”

The WA government response is predictable: it can’t be true ‘cause look at all the resources business that’s being done.

The West’s mineral riches themselves outweigh the other concerns, for now. Eventually though, markets come back into a closer balance and quality of government again counts in decisions about where to invest. The real cost of WA Inc is still be assessed.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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