Australian PM Warns Of 'Huge' Economic Impact From Gas Blast SYDNEY (AFP)--Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned Wednesday of a "huge" national economic impact from a devastating gas plant explosion that left key industries grappling with energy shortages. "It is huge, it is huge," Rudd told parliament. "Several WA (Western Australia) mining and industrial companies, including exporters, have been forced to scale back production because of cuts to gas supplies." The plant supplied some 30% of the state's natural gas and its closure was hurting mining and industrial firms there, which could lead to a significant impact on Western Australia's exports and economic growth, he said. "Given WA's crucial significance to the overall performance of the Australian economy, there will be wash through for us all on this over time, but in WA right now it's being felt directly," he said. Businesses have also temporarily laid off thousands of workers or asked them take annual leave until gas supplies resume. Treasurer Wayne Swan also said the explosion would have an impact on the economy, describing the gas crisis as "serious." "It does have economic flow through into the national economy," Swan told reporters. Western Australia accounted for nearly 38% of Australia's exports in the year to April, according to official data. Rudd said the government had canceled an order of six megalitres of diesel for the Royal Australian Navy so that the fuel could be diverted to industry in Western Australia. The government would also consider releasing additional diesel from the defense department's strategic fuel reserve, he said. The government had emergency powers to take over the management, production and stockpiling of liquid fuel, Rudd said, but added the measure had not yet been deemed necessary.