Last week we had the great privilege of a visit from the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison.
The Prime Minister came to see for himself some of the incredible industrial facilities we have here and I was pleased and proud to remind him that last year we exported $100 billion of commodities from the Pilbara. And that we in this region have been the economic crutch of our nation since COVID began.
However, the Federal Government has been a great help to us in WA and Karratha. It provided $15 million funding for our amazing Leisureplex, $10 million towards our beautiful REAP, and a magnificent $304 million towards the Karratha-Tom Price Road.
The Federal Government’s support for our Pilbara Universities Centre has been brilliant – without it, the PUC simply would not exist.
I had to mention our issues, with insurance, FBT, housing and employees. In Karratha we pay 5 times the national average to insure a house and many individuals and businesses simply cannot afford it. And 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. To me, this is unfair and unproductive.
The Prime Minister acknowledged and clearly recognised our contribution and the difficulties we face – giving me confidence that his government was working on these issues.
He was very impressed with his tours of the Christmas Creek mine site and the Yara plants on the Burrup and would have loved to have seen more.
Unfortunately, however, his trip was cut short by his understandable desire to visit the disaster area of Kalbarri, where hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the passage of Tropical Cyclone Seroja.
We hope to see him again.