Project Iron Boomerang

It is now around a decade since Australian entrepreneur and UQ alumnus Shane Condon devised Project Iron Boomerang, in which a 3000km railway line would link Queensland’s Bowen Basin’s coal resources to the iron ore resources of Western Australia’s Pilbara mines. Iron ore would be sent eastwards, and coal would be sent westwards along the railway line and, at each end of the railway, steel production would take place for export markets. But nothing much seems to have happened despite bold initial claims. Early on, some commentators dismissed the project on the basis that Australian wages were simply too high for the steel to be made for a competitive international price. Although the project is envisaged as a private sector venture, its sheer scale and potential implications for regional development mean that it attracts the attention of State and Territory governments, especially with the Australian dollar now far lower than it was at the time the project was first proposed.
Imagine that you are an economist working for the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the Queensland Government and have been asked to prepare a critical analysis of the project as a briefing for the Queensland Premier, who expects the Western Australian Premier and Northern Territory Chief Minister to raise the future of the project when they all meet in mid 2020. Your expertise in the evolutionary/complex systems approach to economics is the reason that you in particular have been asked to write this briefing, since previous advice has been informed by traditional economic thinking and the Premier is keen to know whether your approach leads to different perspectives on the feasibility and potential impact of the project.

****Marks will be awarded for:

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(i) Evidence of the extent of relevant reading that has been undertaken, both in terms of breadth and depth, especially from the scholarly literate rather than merely referring to media reports and sources that have not been peer reviewed (9 marks);

(ii) Grasp of theoretical issues/absence of mistakes in explaining key concepts (8 marks)

(iii) Insight, critical thinking and creativity evident in applying theoretical perspectives to the topic (10 marks) ;

(iv) Quality of writing and presentation, given the target audience (6 marks);

(v) Accuracy and consistency of referencing (2 marks).

In relation to (iii), note that if you are merely reporting what others have said and showing you have understood it, then you will be unlikely to score more than 5/10 on this criterion; we want to see evidence that you can make original connections and/or display critical insight by using the theory yourself.

+ MUST NEED TO see evidence that you can make original connections and/or display critical insight by using the theory yourself. Not just reporting what others have said from research.
+ MUST NEED TO USE the theory that been taught in this course on this report (theory that been taught in this course can be found on file L03~L08 Handout that I upload) .

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