Infrastructure plan will help Pilbara, whole state

02 December, 2016

A long-term infrastructure plan for WA would give the national and global business community the certainty they need to make investments in this state – including in the Pilbara.

CCI is pushing for an independent infrastructure body as part of its election strategy.

The future of the Pilbara was front and centre of government, business, industry and community leaders last week at a one-day Pilbara Economic Development Conference.

The state’s economic powerhouse is set to undergo a transformation on the back of the mining boom and the $1.7b Pilbara Cities investment by the State Government over the last six years.

CCI Chief Executive Deidre Willmott says the Pilbara is the powerhouse of WA’s economy.

“As the home to many of the state’s most valuable natural resources like iron ore and LNG, the Pilbara region will continue to be a vital contributor to the economy as mining and resources also continue to be key drivers of growth into the future,” Willmott says.

“A five, 10 or 20-year vision that looks beyond the political life cycle would ensure that WA attracts critical investment that businesses need to build roads, rail and other infrastructure, which in turn would enable business to create thousands of jobs and stimulate economic growth.”

She says a state infrastructure plan would balance the needs of the Pilbara with the rest of the state.

“Currently, different government departments and funding schemes often operate in isolation – the metropolitan area plans without consultation with regional strategists, and various departments covering things like roads, health, education and others do not connect and align their needs and visions for WA.

“A long-term state infrastructure plan should undo this silo approach and bring the state together to create a holistic plan that is directed by projected population growth for metropolitan and regional areas.”

Hold tight: Barnett

Premier Colin Barnett told key Pilbara business and industry heads not to “panic about so-called downturns” because the area was positioned to see some “very, very good times” ahead.

“What this state and what the Pilbara needs is people who have a long-term view, who keep a steady point of opinion and policy and a steady hand because the times of Pilbara, there is so much to be optimistic about,” he told about 400 delegates.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman told the conference the Pilbara is at a crossroads.

He said with a population of just 60,000, the region had “kicked and punched” above its weight, but investment in community infrastructure hadn’t been reflected in the contribution the Pilbara as a region makes to WA.

“We are at a set of crossroads. The region is intrinsically linked to the resource sector so as those cycles occur all the business community ebbs and flows and reacts to that,” Redman said.

“What we’ve done with Pilbara Cities is drive some investment to give it some commensurate investment on the back of the contribution it makes to the broader economy.”