There have been a number of proposals in the past to develop a major city in the mineral-rich but sparsely populated north west of Australia. Business News recently resurrected a proposal by businessman Ken Perry about a decade ago to create a city of one million people in the north. Under an aerial photograph of Karratha, it noted “With the right investment and support, the original Pilbara City idea of 1 million people is still possible”.
A government program, entitled Pilbara Cities did finally eventuate and was undertaken during the recent mining construction boom, but it had a much more modest target of 50,000 people for Karratha and shared the vision across the Pilbara, supporting towns in each local government area.
Pilbara Cities was successful for Karratha: our population grew by xxx% between the 2006 and 2016 census. Alongside the mining boom we were able to provide incredible infrastructure and amenity, remodel our city centre and improve the vital services of our towns. We took the opportunity and resources to prepare for long term growth and are now able to focus on economic diversification, improving tourism and supporting local business.
Pilbara Cities has wrapped up now but the prospect of a major city of the north, comparable with those economies and populations in the east, is still required. It boils back down to Karratha being recognised as the place to create a regional hub in the north.
Council are continuing to work with all levels of government to see this achieved and we will be taking advantage of hosting the Developing Northern Australia conference at the Red Earth Arts Precinct in the middle of next year to drive the delivery of this much larger vision. Pilbara Cities may have come to an end but the growth of Karratha is only just beginning.