The North West Shelf (Woodside) Agreement and the Railway and Port Agreement (The Pilbara Infrastructure Pty Ltd) are just two recent examples of agreements that have inserted local content commitments. The last state agreement to be amended by Parliament, the Northwest Gas Agreement, was 40 years old when it was amended in 2019. The main objective of this amendment was to extend the duration of the agreement so that operations could continue until 2071. However, the VA government took this opportunity to impose new obligations on the company by inserting clauses in “modern state agreements” requiring the implementation of local development plans and local participation in the project. The Western Australian Geological Survey (GSWA) publishes state-of-the-art reports, maps and databases that document the geology and oil reserves of Western Australia. The VA government also took the opportunity to amend existing government agreements to improve local content commitments. Since 2011, new Member States` agreements have increasingly incorporated local content provisions to ensure that local businesses can get the “maximum” benefits from these important projects. The main resources in Western Australia are iron ore, natural gas, gold, alumina and nickel. However, there are more than 50 different minerals that are mined in Western Australia, more than in any other Australian state or territory. Yet new state agreements are now much rarer than in the 1960s and 1970s. A number of recent government agreements have been reached to authorize the construction of major railway lines – a circumvention necessary in light of the Public Works Act 1902 (AV), which provides that a railway can only be built under the supervision of special legislation. The special legislation does not necessarily have to be done through a state agreement, but that is the approach that the VA government has taken in practice.
Government agreements are not a “one-off approach” to resource development in VA. Although all agreements have similar provisions, they are negotiated on a case-by-case basis and, as such, have project-specific clauses. GSWA`s services encourage investment in the raw materials sector: offshore oil activities are regulated by the Australian government and are subject to requirements similar to those regulated under state jurisdiction. For some bulk products, such as coal, produced for local electricity generation, a flat fee per tonne is applied in place of the value rates described above.