In this section ‘total assets’ refers to current and non-current assets combined, as reported by corporations. Also, ‘total equity’ is calculated as:
total equity = total assets – total liabilities.
Figure 6: Combined total income, total assets and total equity, 2004–05 to 2014–15
The total income, assets and equity of the top 500 corporations have consistently increased since 2004–05, except for a slight drop in income in 2009–10 (figure 6).
Although total income has risen significantly over the decade, from $767 million to $1.88 billion, the rate of average yearly growth for income (9.4 per cent) was less than the rate of growth for total assets and total equity (these rates were equal at 12.0 per cent).
Table 3: Total income, total assets and total equity for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
|State/territory||Total income||Total assets||Total equity|
Figure 7: Total income, total assets and total equity for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2014–15
The bulk of the income, assets and equity are shared by two jurisdictions: Northern Territory and Western Australia (figure 7).
Figure 8: Movements in average income of the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2004–05 to 2014–15
Figure 8 shows that over the past 11 financial years all jurisdictions experienced an overall increase in income, but other patterns also emerged. For example:
- The corporations in the top 500 in three jurisdictions (Northern Territory, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) have experienced yearly increases in average income over the past four years (2011–12 to 2014–15).
- Compared to 2013–14 the average income fell in only two jurisdictions—Victoria and Western Australia. The average income for Victoria dropped from $2,547,690 to $2,448,208 (a decrease of 3.9 per cent) and for Western Australia it dropped from $4,277,087 to $4,255,671 (a decrease of 0.5 per cent).
- New South Wales experienced the greatest percentage increase in 2014–15 from the previous year, rising 22.7 per cent (from an average of $2,379,289 to $2,920,221). The average income for New South Wales has steadily increased since 2009–10.
- The Northern Territory consistently maintained the highest average income earned by the top 500 corporations over the past 11 financial years. In 2014–15 it broke the $5 million mark and is the first jurisdiction to ever do so.
- The Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania earned the lowest average income over the past 11 years.
- The average income in Western Australia grew slowly from 2004–05 to 2008–09. After a small dip in 2009–10, there was a significant rise—almost doubling—for the following two years. From 2011–12 the average income in Western Australia has been sustained at the higher level but then somewhat flattened off, and most recently it showed a small decline.
- Not one jurisdiction posted an increase in average income every single year over the 11 year period.
- In 2014–15 the average income from the highest to lowest jurisdiction differed by almost $4 million. The Australian Capital Territory was the lowest at $1,150,841 while the Northern Territory was the highest at $5,041,508.
Figure 9: Annual average growth rate for the top 500 corporations by state/territory, 2004–05 to 2014–15
Figure 9 shows South Australia had an average annual growth rate of 2.0 per cent for the last decade. This was much lower than all other jurisdictions. Five of the other jurisdictions had average rates ranging from 8.6 per cent to 10.0 per cent (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia).
Average income by region
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet aligns its network of staff supporting Indigenous affairs using a model of 12 regional areas to provide support closer to the communities it serves.  The top 500 corporations have been aligned with the network.
Table 4: Average income of the top 500 corporations by region, 2014–15
|Region||No. of corporations||Average 2014–15 income per corporation||Percentage increase/decrease in average income from 2013–14 to 2014–15|
|Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt||25||$7,437,806||7.1%|
|Top End and Tiwi Islands||53||$5,204,987||17.1%|
|Greater Western Australia||61||$4,631,555||-4.8%|
|Western New South Wales||15||$3,412,549||22.5%|
|Eastern New South Wales||52||$2,757,745||19.8%|
|Victoria and Tasmania||22||$2,240,032||-2.7%|
|Far North Queensland||43||$2,226,235||11.9%|
|Gulf and North Queensland||20||$1,641,145||-13.5%|
Table 4 shows Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt remained the region with the highest average income in 2014–15.
Figure 10: Change in average income of the top 500 corporations by region, from 2013–14 to 2014–15
Figure 10 shows nine regions increased their average income from 2013–14 to 2014–15 while three regions decreased. The Gulf and North Queensland region had the largest decrease in average income, 13.5 per cent.
In 2013–14 the South Australia region had a percentage decrease in average income of 13.8 per cent. Conversely in 2014–15 it had a percentage increase of 19.1 per cent.
Over the past decade the Australian resources and energy sectors have experienced significant change, starting with the resources boom in the mid-2000s and continuing more recently with deteriorating export markets. In September 2011, Australia’s terms of trade reached their highest level in 140 years.  The investment phase peaked in 2011, but since then the number of new exploration and capital expenditure projects has fallen substantially. 
Although iron ore resources can be found in all Australian states/territories, almost 90 per cent of identified resources occur in Western Australia, including almost 80 per cent in the Hamersley region in the Pilbara. It is one of the world’s major iron ore provinces.   
In 2014–15 Western Australia contributed 98.3 per cent of the production of iron ore in Australia. 
There are 23 corporations in the top 500 that are based in the Pilbara, which is part of the Greater Western Australia region.
Figure 11: Average income of Pilbara-based corporations in the top 500 compared with average income of all the top 500 corporations, 2007–08 to 2014–15
Figure 11 suggests corporations located in the Pilbara have significantly benefited from the mining boom. In 2007–08 the average income of Pilbara-based corporations was virtually identical to the average national income of the top 500 corporations. However, from 2008–09 to 2013–14, Pilbara-based corporations consistently increased their income relative to the national average. The peak occurred in 2013–14.
In 2015 many iron ore producers announced cuts to employee numbers and service contracts. This has had an expected impact on Aboriginal corporations in the Pilbara. In 2014–15 the average income of Pilbara-based corporations decreased by $1.18 million compared to 2013–14 (from $8.99 million to $7.81 million), whereas the average income of the top 500 corporations increased by $284,751 (from $3.48 million to $3.76 million).
While the challenging market conditions are expected to continue for the next few years, the outlook is still optimistic for a modest increase in resources exports for the medium to long term. Australia’s Chief Economist, Mark Cully, has said, ‘a legacy of the investment phase of the commodity boom is the increased productive capacity of iron ore and LNG [liquid natural gas], which is now translating into additional supply for these commodities.’ 
Although there was a noticeable decline in average income for the last year it remains a fact that, on average, corporations in the Pilbara still had a higher income compared to other corporations across the whole of Australia.
The average income in 2014–15 of the Pilbara-based top 500 corporations remained at just over double the average income of all the top 500 corporations ($7.81 million compared to $3.76 million) and still above the best performing region, Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt, which had an average income of $7.44 million.
Despite a drop in average income the combined total income for the Pilbara rose from $170.7 million in 2013–14 (19 corporations) to $179.6 million in 2014–15 (23 corporations), an increase of 5.2 per cent
or $8.9 million. This anomaly is explained by an increase in the number of Pilbara corporations in the top 500.
Figure 12: Percentage change in average income of Pilbara-based corporations in the top 500 compared with all the top 500 corporations, 2008–09 to 2014–15
The annual percentage changes for corporations in the Pilbara have been far more erratic and intense when compared to the top 500 as a whole—see figure 12.
The trend in average income percentage changes for Pilbara-based corporations has been downward, as expected, since 2012–13.