Don’t write off the Pilbara’s ‘pie-in-the-sky’ ideas

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Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday.
Camera IconPilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday. Credit: The West Australian

Big, bold, ambitious; three words which could describe many of the ideas and projects raised at the Pilbara-Kimberley Forum Hot Topix sessions in Perth last week.

Like many forums over the past few years, there was no shortage of grand vision for the Pilbara and Kimberley from government and private sector speakers, and while some may cast it all aside as “pie-in-the-sky” thinking, PRC chief executive Tony Friday believes that vision is worthy of investigation.

“We’re on the edge with renewables, lithium, gold discoveries and a range of other new projects,” he said.

“What we need to do is have the statesmanship that people had 50 years ago to build the iron industry — we need to bring that back to the table.

“As with all listings, some will fail but you only need a few to come through to drive huge layers of economic growth.” Mr Friday said forums such as Hot Topix brought a wide range of thinkers together to help drive policy.

“When you put a large number of intelligent people in one room, great things often happen,” he said.

Having been impressed by a CEDA lunch speech on forming a vision for WA, Pilbara Solar project director Richard Finlay-James said WA had the ideas — all that was needed was some momentum.

“I remember an Irishman named Eddie O’Connor, who said he wanted to see 10GW of wind energy in the North Sea; he was laughed at,” he said.

“That was 10 years a go and it has happened.

“No one is laughing at him now. I think given the nature of the resource in the Pilbara, it is logical that a renewable energy generation facility will be built.”

Mr Finlay-James said despite a lack of political will, the community was leading the charge for renewables.

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