It was great to see the Karratha CBD buzzing last week when we hosted the Developing Northern Australia Conference at the Red Earth Arts Precinct. Over 360 delegates including representatives from all tiers of government, policy-makers, investors and leaders came to Karratha to take part in discussions on how to build a prosperous and sustainable Northern Australia.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM represented the Commonwealth Government, while the Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food, Ports, Alannah MacTiernan and Member for the Pilbara, Kevin Michel represented the State.
We had Mayors and Councillors from across Australia including Mt Isa, Richmond, Torres Strait, Weipa, Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton and Flinders. The Regional Capitals Alliance WA and the CRC for Developing Northern Australia held Board meetings to align with the event and many spontaneous meetings of delegates with a common interest occurred, including the proposed North-West Defence Cooperative.
We had University Professors, CEOs, academics and managers, all with an interest or expertise in the issues facing communities north of the 26th parallel such as ours.
Our town got the highest praise from many people who suddenly realised we are not a dusty mine site, but a liveable City. And it was notable how many were amazed at the incredible export income generated by the Pilbara.
Council used the conference as a platform to announce the new inter-regional flight network alongside Aviair, Shire of East Pilbara and Rio Tinto.
Across the three-day event it is estimated delegates spent approximately $250,000 in town which is a welcome boost to local businesses. It was difficult to get a table at some cafes and restaurants as delegates grabbed coffee or breakfast before the conference, and dinner and drinks afterwards.
Council has received some very positive feedback regarding the conference, from the spectacular pre-conference dinner on Hearson Cove to the superb Red Earth Arts Precinct facility and I’d like to personally thank all involved with this major event. This was an excellent test of our capabilities in the conferencing space and a solid foundation from which we can continue to build.
The City is looking forward to hosting more conferences in coming months, including the WA Regional Tourism Conference coming up in September.