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The minerals boom and Australia's 'resource curse'

Goodman, J. and Worth, D. (2008) The minerals boom and Australia's 'resource curse'. Journal of Australian Political Economy, 61 . pp. 201-219.

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Resource wealth in Australia is often presented as an asset, waiting to be exploited. Reflecting this, the recent resource boom is unquestioned indeed celebrated--as a great windfall for the Australian people. There is a broad-based assumption that Australia's resource-based economy successfully diversified in the later twentieth century, while retaining a foundation in agricultural exports, and latterly minerals. As the saying goes, the country rode to prosperity 'on a sheep's back', and then on the back of the mining sector. The recent resources boom may be seen as simply the latest phase in that process, pump-priming the country's twenty-first century information-age service economy.

The mining boom has undoubtedly been a key foundation of Australia's recent economic growth. But how far should it be welcomed? This article debates the impact of the resource boom in Australia, arguing we should at the very least be willing to discuss whether this presumed blessing is, for many, in fact a 'curse in disguise. In the context of accelerated climate change, and a continuing rural crisis in Australia, it is salutary to be reminded of what Sheik Ahmed Yamani, long-time Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, said in regard to their major resource asset: 'All in all, I wish we had discovered water' (quoted in Ross 1999).

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: University of Sydney
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