Prime Minister - it is wonderful to have you here this morning in our beautiful Red Earth Arts Precinct – welcome! This building was partly funded by the Commonwealth and was visited by your predecessor in 2016, when he handed us a cheque for $10 million to get it started!
Welcome also to our wonderful local Member for Durack and Minister for Defence Infrastructure, Melissa Price: thank you Melissa for making this happen.
I would like to acknowledge my fellow councillors, the Chair of RDA Pilbara Nerida Kickett, KDCCI President Tony Simpson and I pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather this morning, the Ngarluma people.
Prime Minister you are now in the heart of the world’s greatest mineral province! We have it all – iron ore, oil & gas, lithium, copper, gold, cobalt manganese – you name it. Last year we exported $100B of minerals from the Pilbara and I am very proud to say that we have been the crutch this nation has leaned on heavily since COVID began. While tourism, education and many of our agriculture exports collapsed, our minerals exports have flourished – and will continue to do so.
Karratha is the only City in this incredible region and our vision is to be Australia’s Most Liveable Regional City. We want to use some of the great wealth generated here to develop this remarkable part of the country which is vital for our nation’s defence, trade and economic health. We need sustainable industries, supporting a larger, permanent residential workforce to enable us to achieve this goal.
The Federal Government has already been a great help in this, funding our amazing Leisureplex, the Tom Price Road which will open up the central Pilbara and the splendid support for our local Pilbara Universities Centre. We are now hoping for help through ARENA for our Hydrogen Cluster – we hope to develop a huge hydrogen export industry here Prime Minister, which will provide clean, cheap energy to the world forever.
We still have our issues. Insurance is a problem – here in Karratha we pay 5 times the national average – up to $10,000 for a 4 x 2 house! Even sizeable businesses cannot afford to insure their property – this must change. Tax - while the nation’s richest companies operating here get a 100% FBT deduction on transporting and housing their staff, our high risk, struggling small businesses who support these companies – the plumbers, the welders, the retailers and electricians – who also have to supply housing to their employees – are forced to pay FBT. This is unfair and unproductive.
We need housing – we have 1000 jobs and 30 or 40 places to rent or buy at any time. The boom is pushing up prices which have gone up 50% in the last 2 years and many of our lower paid workers have already been forced to leave town. We appreciate our workers very much and we need more of them – not less – but the DAMA background paperwork is too hard for a small business.
Prime Minister, there is so much opportunity here and we know you are aware of these issues and are helping. Thank you for that, thank you for coming, welcome to our city and enjoy your stay in the stupendous Pilbara!
I’d like to now welcome Federal Member for Durack the Honourable Melissa Price up to the lectern, thank you