Pilbara forum highlights future focus need

Peter LongPilbara News
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long.
Camera IconCity of Karratha Mayor Peter Long. Credit: Pilbara News

Last week, the annual Pilbara-Kimberley Forum saw the eight councils from our two regions meet to discuss issues of common interest and investigate new opportunities for the development of our remote, sparsely populated country.

Connectivity infrastructure (roads, ports, flights) is always an issue.

The Pilbara alone exported some $90 billion of commodities in 2017 but getting from Karratha to Kununurra is an overnight trip.

How much of the wealth generated here should be reinvested in the region to boost development and improve connectivity?

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Regional infrastructure is a vital issue in a country as sparsely populated as ours, but so dependent on its regions for export income.

Government does not have a national development plan, nor is there a discussion on the importance of populating remote areas.

Infrastructure Australia has a list of projects which includes a few out bush, but when you cost commuters’ time at $50 a hour, that new billion-dollar capital city tunnel (which cuts 15 minutes off a commute time for ten million commuter trips per year) appears more cost effective than investing the export billions in the bush.

But you get a lot more bang for your buck in the regions.

As our population continues to gather in coastal cities, these are the issues we need to address.

By 2061 the populations of Melbourne and Sydney will be around nine million and the other State capitals three times their current size.

The liveability of cities is known to reduce as their population increases.

Do we want rows of apartment blocks in our capitals? Should we expand outwards, destroying more good farmland? Should we be more like Europe, with big cities across the country?

For the future of our kids, we need to address these now.

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