WA's strategic importance and the defence industry
Western Australia is Australia’s gateway to the Indian Ocean. History demonstrates the importance of the West, with Albany and Fremantle as dispatch points for troop convoys to the Middle East and Europe in World War 1. In World War 2, Fremantle became the largest Allied submarine base, with over 170 American, British and Dutch submarines operating from WA.
Since the implementation of the Two Ocean Policy of 1987, Fleet Base West has emerged as the Royal Australian Navy’s key outpost on the Indian Ocean. Up to half of the RAN’s fleet is based permanently in Western Australia, including all six of the Collins submarines.
Western Australia recognises that Australia’s regional strategic environment has become more complex and will continue to change significantly throughout the 21st Century. As a result, Western Australia’s strategic location on the Indian Ocean, as part of this dynamic region, continues to have national implications.
Western Australia accounted for 52% of global iron ore exports in 2014, up from 47% in 2013 and 42% in 2012. Iron ore exports from Port Hedland rose 21% to 418 million tonnes in 2014-15, accounting for 57% of the State’s iron ore exports.
Western Australia accounts for 9% of global LNG exports in 2014 and 85% of Australian LNG exports. Western Australia contributed 44% of Australia’s merchandise exports in 2014-15, accounting for large shares of national exports to China (68%), Japan (48%), Korea (46%) and India (19%).
There are 975 mines and 65 oil and gas fields, mainly in the North West. The increased economic potential of Western Australia and the vulnerability of its growing resources infrastructure has also had an impact on the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean and the broader region.
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