BIG CITY CALL
Calls for politicians to renew focus on establishing a major city in the North West, potentially in Port Hedland, have received the backing of two prominent West Australians.
Speaking on Seven’s new panel show Flashpoint last week, former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop and WA builder Dale Alcock voiced support for the idea of creating a North West city to better showcase WA to key trading partners to the north.
Town of Port Hedland commissioner Fred Riebeling said Port Hedland would be a good candidate as a major centre of resources activity and had a host of development plans in the pipeline.
Two prominent West Australians have called on politicians to renew focus on building a major city in the North West.
Speaking to Seven’s new panel show Flashpoint last Monday night, former foreign minister Julie Bishop said a city closer to key trading partners would help showcase WA.
“Perth is one of the most liveable cities on the planet, but wouldn’t it be great if we had large population centres elsewhere in our State?” she said.
“For example, up north, so we could have a world-class city close to our South-East Asian neighbours.
“It would be a magnificent opportunity to showcase our entire State.”
WA builder Dale Alcock voiced his support for the idea.
He said Karratha would be the best choice to establish a major North West city.
“One of the things I think needs to change is our reliance on fly-in, fly-out to get population stable in these areas,” he said.
“I don’t think that is something the State (Government) alone can deal with.
“I think it needs Federal assistance with that to provide tax incentives and so-forth for young families to establish themselves there.”
Premier Mark McGowan said policymakers needed to focus on jobs before trying to boost population.
“They are terrific communities — Karratha, Hedland, Broome, Kununurra, Carnarvon and Geraldton,” he said.
“They are not as big as the Queensland coastal cities, but on the other hand it is great they are substantial towns now.
“You have to always make sure you have the jobs available for people to live there. You can’t say ‘let’s make it 100,000 people’ without having the jobs available.”
Town of Port Hedland commissioner Fred Riebeling said Port Hedland and Karratha were the two “obvious choices” for a major city as the North West’s most significant population centres.
“Port Hedland is the largest export port in the world and that attracts a degree of interest and capacity to expand, plus all of the inland mines that are looking at being developed offer a huge opportunity for Hedland to grow,” he said.
“The Town of Port Hedland has also just announced a number of development plans for our sporting areas to cope with extra demand and I’m hoping that government, with an eye to the future, will invest in those as well; plus we also have very good corporate citizens in FMG, BHP and co and they play a significant role in anything that happens up here.”
“Karratha seems to have a lot more infrastructure than Hedland, but with the plans we’ve developed in the last few weeks that will change and I think Hedland eventually will be the largest population centre.”
Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the Pilbara was a wonderful place to live and work in and was a huge contributor to the WA economy through a range of industries.