No ex­o­dus from City: ABS data

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

The City of Kar­ratha has de­fied the doom and gloom of the min­ing down­turn with the lat­est ABS data in­di­cat­ing the pop­u­la­tion has re­mained steady since 2014.

Pre­lim­i­nary 2015 re­gional pop­u­la­tion growth sta­tis­tics in­di­cate the City boasts a pop­u­la­tion of more than 26,000 de­spite con­stant spec­u­la­tion of a res­i­den­tial ex­o­dus in the past year.

That fig­ure com­prises of 19,235 in the Kar­ratha sta­tis­ti­cal area, and 6993 in the Roe­bourne area.

While the data in­di­cates a healthy pop­u­la­tion, WA Premier Colin Bar­nett last week ad­mit­ted the State Gov­ern­ment’s 2035 pop­u­la­tion goals for the Pil­bara Cities vision were be­gin­ning to look out of reach.

Mem­ber for Pil­bara Bren­don Grylls said de­spite the neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment Kar­ratha was of­ten por­trayed in, he re­mained con­fi­dent of its fu­ture.

“Given we’ve come off the re­source con­struc­tion pe­riod and there’s been a fun­da­men­tal shift in the econ­omy ... the fact the lat­est ABS stats show the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion has re­mained sta­ble gives me con­fi­dence that we’ve prob­a­bly weath­ered the storm,” he said.

“One of the sure ways to en­sure you don’t get to 50,000 though is to have the (me­dia) run­ning front page sto­ries and ed­i­to­ri­als week af­ter week say­ing the place is fall­ing apart and there’s tum­ble­weeds rolling down the street; that’s not what you see when you come here.

“What does stop that vision is if you turn the tap off and say we’re not go­ing to in­vest in the Pil­bara, we’re just go­ing to in­vest in El­iz­a­beth Quay, in sports sta­di­ums and in hos­pi­tals in Perth.

“Plenty of peo­ple who don’t share that vision are will­ing to jump off the train at the first op­por­tu­nity, but as a per­son who in­vented that train and wants to drive it, I’m stay­ing on it.”

Mr Grylls said the frame­work had been laid out for pri­vate in­vest­ment and small busi­nesses to drive growth in the City.

Pil­bara Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Terry Hill said pop­u­la­tion fig­ures set out in the Pil­bara Cities vision were not fore­casts, but glimpses into the po­ten­tial for the re­gion.

“You only have to walk down the main street in Kar­ratha to see the im­pact of the Pil­bara Cities ini­tia­tive, and the work is far from over,” he said. “With­out a crystal ball we can­not pre­dict what will hap­pen..

“What we can do is make sure the Pil­bara is in the best pos­si­ble po­si­tion to take ad­van­tage of new devel­op­ment and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties while build­ing vi­brant re­gional towns and cities that at­tract and re­tain res­i­dents.”

Mr Hill said in­dus­tries such as tourism, so­lar power, agri­cul­ture and aqua­cul­ture pre­sented plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the re­gion mov­ing for­ward. “The ca­pac­ity of in­fra­struc­ture, ser­vices and land avail­abil­ity also al­lows work­ers to live per­ma­nently in town, rather than in tran­sient worker ac­com­mo­da­tion,” he said.

“This has been proven to im­prove the well-be­ing of the in­di­vid­ual and pro­vides great ben­e­fits back to the com­mu­nity as well.”

Kar­ratha and Dis­tricts Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive John Lally said the sta­ble pop­u­la­tion cou­pled with eas­ing costs were mak­ing it in­creas­ingly easy for busi­nesses to start up in the City.

“It’s a ser­vice in­dus­try for pop­u­la­tion, that is where the op­por­tu­nity lies,” he said.

“All these projects com­ing along with tourism as well, a lot of those tourism busi­nesses are set up by fam­i­lies.”

Over­all Pil­bara pop­u­la­tion de­creased by 0.7 per cent, mostly be­cause of a de­cline in the East Pil­bara. Ash­bur­ton’s pop­u­la­tion re­mained steady at 11,000 and the Ex­mouth lo­cal gov­ern­ment area still sits be­low 2600.

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