Pil­bara jug­ger­naut needs new im­age

Pilbara News - - Pilbara News - Tom Zaun­mayr and Ali­cia Perera

Re­gional Aus­tralia is an eco­nomic jug­ger­naut with an im­age prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Re­gional Aus­tralia In­sti­tute chief ex­ec­u­tive Jack Archer.

Re­gional Aus­tralia In­sti­tute’s lat­est re­port high­lighted the re­silience and pro­duc­tiv­ity of re­gional Aus­tralia, but noted “re­lent­less neg­a­tiv­ity” and “po­lit­i­cal rhetoric” had un­der­mined the true po­ten­tial of 40 per cent of the na­tion’s econ­omy.

Mr Archer said the Pil­bara was still punch­ing above its weight eco­nom­i­cally.

“Ar­guably iron ore is the most im­por­tant ex­port and is a mas­sive con­tri­bu­tion to Aus­tralia’s ex­ports, and even though con­di­tions are quiet tough at the mo­ment that’s still the case,” he said.

“That story of ru­ral tran­si­tion, of tech­nol­ogy chang­ing agri­cul­ture, that’s been a really dom­i­nant story in a lot of peo­ple’s minds, and it’s a really nar­row view of what re­gional Aus­tralia is.

“Growth hap­pens at dif­fer­ent times for met­ro­pol­i­tan Aus­tralia, but col­lec­tively the re­gions are a very stable source of growth.”

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Pil­bara chief ex­ec­u­tive Diane Pentz said it was clear the Pil­bara would al­ways be a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the na­tional econ­omy.

“Pro­duc­tiv­ity is al­ways un­der re­view and we are really clear eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion is es­sen­tial to grow re­gional ar­eas,” she said. “We’ve just got to find ways of get­ting en­thu­si­asm and in­ter­est into th­ese ar­eas.

“I think there is an op­por­tu­nity now to start re­brand­ing, and start chang­ing that con­ver­sa­tion around what the Pil­bara is and what the Pil­bara is look­ing to be.”

Ms Pentz said in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums were a ma­jor hur­dle to di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion in the North.

Mr Archer said it was in­ter­est­ing to see how the North West econ­omy will change.

“Chal­leng­ing con­di­tions mean that some busi­nesses will have dif­fi­cult times, but you will have other op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

“Dur­ing the min­ing boom there wasn’t really space for any­thing else to hap­pen.”

Mr Archer said iron ore would re­main an es­sen­tial ex­port.

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