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Pilbara iron ore agreements processing obligations and outcomes

Murphy, Peter (2015) Pilbara iron ore agreements processing obligations and outcomes. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Western Australian government entered into agreements for the development of Pilbara iron ore. These saw access provided to iron ore in return for processing. The obligations were specified in terms of what, how much and when processing would take place. Both sides expected that they would be met, if economic. Ore beneficiation, pellets, metallised agglomerates and steel processing were expected, depending on the agreement.

The processing obligations from the 1963 to 1974 agreements have all been met; some to time, some early and some late. They were met as set or as agreed alternatives. Metallised agglomerates and steelmaking were always found to be uneconomic. Alternatives were accepted in their place.

The implementation process was considered using an Ambiguity-Conflict model. The process was an example of political implementation. This was where the agreement parties entered into negotiations when an obligation became due and could not be met. That process allowed for the agreed re-setting of the obligation (type and/or timing). If that re-set obligation was not met, the process would be repeated until an agreed outcome was achieved that would be accepted by the state as discharging the obligation.

The effectiveness of the obligations outcomes was judged against criteria set at the time of their initial negotiation. If the effectiveness test was whether the obligations were met to type and time, then the outcomes would fail. But it is argued that the political implementation process meant this was an unreasonably high test. As the outcomes over time reflected negotiated outcomes, the obligations could be seen to have been effective.

The meeting of the obligations was tested against a policy success framework. The outcomes had less than complete success, but were not failures. However, the inability of the agreements to deliver steelmaking meant that political support for their use has been lost. It is unlikely that they will be used again.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Layman, Lenore
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