Published on March 17, 2014
Fostering sustainable regional development in the Pilbara Weathering the booms and busts
Minerals and Energy Projects: • Reduced construction activity; • Transition to operations; • Fewer FIFO workers
Proposition 1: The heavy reliance of the Pilbara on minerals and energy industries carries many areas of vulnerability • Technology changes • The vagaries of commodity prices • Changes in the project lifecycle • Competing supply for both gas and ore products from other global locations, often with a lower cost base. • Over the very long term resources have a lifespan
Proposition 2: The resources industry is a good base but it will not support the population size of the Pilbara cities vision
Proposition 3: Move beyond resources to resilience Build on the strong resource base but do not rely on it: • A diversified economy – more economic resilience; • Services and life-style features to support a large and more diverse population.
Factors that influence individual decisions to live in or leave a community: • Economic opportunity and employment prospects, for all members of the family; • Education services; • Health services, particularly access to a reasonable range of specialist services; • Access to a reasonable range of cultural and recreation activities.
-1 -0.75 -0.5 -0.25 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 Access to allied health services Access to technical or further… Access to GP services Access to hospital services Access to tertiary education services Police services Relative Strengths: Essential Services Relative Strength Pilbara Region Relative Ranking (Regional Australia Institute: Insight Competiveness Index)
Pilbara Region Relative Ranking (Regional Australia Institute: Insight Competiveness Index) -1 -0.75 -0.5 -0.25 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 English proficiency Early childhood performance School performance - Primary School performance - Secondary University qualifications Technical qualifications Lifelong learning participation Health Early school leavers Relative Strengths: Human Capital Relative Strength
Pilbara Region Relative Ranking (Regional Australia Institute: Insight Competiveness Index) -1 -0.75 -0.5 -0.25 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 Skilled labour: (% managers and professionals) Participation rate Welfare dependence Unemployment rate Young unemployment Relative Strengths: Labour Market Efficiency Relative Strength
Pilbara Region Relative Ranking (Regional Australia Institute: Insight Competiveness Index) -1 -0.75 -0.5 -0.25 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 Businesses in technology and related industries Households with internet connection Workers in ICT and electronics Households and businesses with broadband internet Relative Strengths: Technological Readiness Relative Strength
Pilbara Region Relative Ranking (Regional Australia Institute: Insight Competiveness Index) -1 -0.75 -0.5 -0.25 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 Dominance of large employers Exporters, importers, wholesalers: % employed Access to local finance: Number of banks/lending institutions as a share of… Economic diversification Income source - Own business Exports: % business sales revenue earned from exports Relative Strengths: Business Sophistication Relative Strength
RDA Report : COST OF DOING BUSINESS IN THE PILBARA • The price indexes for the Pilbara are the highest of any region in WA and in Australia; • In 2012 in the Pilbara the level of remuneration for employees would need to be a minimum of 37% higher than that in Perth; • There is often a need to provide subsidised or free accommodation to attract or retain employees. • Costs of operating a business is up to 120% higher than in Perth. • Faced with such substantial costs and with a small market size, some businesses are struggling to survive, while NGOs continually deal with considerable programme funding challenges. • Businesses and NGOs face high costs for staff training, staff recruitment and turnover, travel, professional services and consumables. • The cost of doing business in the Pilbara for SMEs and NGOs has risen primarily as a result of the high demand for labour, accommodation and other services by the resources sector.
RDA Report : MAP AND GAP ANALYSIS: PILBARA NON GOVERNMENT ORGANISATIONS 2012 The cost levels particularly affect NGOs: • Escalating costs faced by NGOs in the Pilbara are not taken into account in providing adequate and secure funding. • Numerous NGOs based in Perth have very little on the ground presence in the Pilbara due to the affordability and staffing challenges of the region. • NGOs have difficulties in attracting and retaining staff unless they make significant contributions to their accommodation costs. • Staff and volunteers – Difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff due to wages competition from the resource and government sectors • Governance – Small pool of people willing to volunteer on Boards resulting in concurrency in board membership and potential conflicts of interest
NGOs: Possible Measures A coordinated approach to planning services for the Region: • Development of a 10 year Pilbara Region Community Plan and a 10 year NGO Accommodation and facilities Plan; • Allocation of NGO office and service delivery accommodation; • Allocation of government funding for services that reflect the real cost of doing business in the Pilbara with contracts aligned to the Regional Price Index; • Development of sustainable organisational models, including potential streamlining or merging of services; • Communications strategy to raise the profile of the NGO sector, highlighting its value and contribution; • Action research to evaluate and implement ICT, potentially for virtual board membership and for professional supervision and/or development; • Mixed model of housing and security of tenure; and • Expansion of PANGO's role and resourcing
Possible Diversification Projects Project: Prospective Employment (operations) Skilled professional Skilled technical and semi- skilled Bio-fuels Project 5 - 10 20 - 30 Hi-Tech Greenhouse 5 - 10 20 - 30 Aquaculture fish farm 4 10 Fish processing factory 2 10 - 20 Algae Farm 200
Other possibilities: • Education • Tourism
Summary: towards resilience • Greater diversity in the economy • Education services at a high level to keep people in place longer: – better quality secondary school education; – More diversity, including private secondary schools: – Much upgraded tertiary education and development of research specialities. • Health services that meet all of the health needs of all the community. • A richer cultural life, with cultural activities more than pubs and movie downloads • Well supported and vibrant community groups • An wide range of formal and informal sporting and recreation opportunities; • Places for people to meet – this means paying attention to the liveability of the major centres (This is where the population expansion will occur): • Attending to cost issues – lowering the cost base for accommodation and key services.
More specifically: • Regional governance and coordination – more local autonomy and regional decision making , – better coordination between three tiers of government, – specific assistance to the local governments as primary providers of services and facilities; – locating more government agencies in the region. • Reducing the cost structure, starting with the costs of both residential and commercial accommodation. • Education – establishment of a substantial full-service tertiary education capacity and improved secondary school education with a wider choice and variety. • Upgraded services infrastructure, including a move to international capability at Karratha airport and a common user facility to service extra-regional projects. • Formulating a digital strategy for the region to enable: – Remote and tele-working – Improved viability of basing regional services and administration in Karratha – Improved e-health and e-education services • Health: further expansion of health services; incorporation of areas of specialisation; Promoting the expansion of aged care services and facilities.
And finally: • Actively supporting the NGO sector. • Promoting the SME sector: – Fostering the further development of SMEs in mining and resources support services and the resources value chain; – Support to small business development programs; – Fostering incubation projects and support services; – Fostering the development of SMEs in agri-business support services. • Tourism: Formulate a comprehensive tourism strategy addressing: – Product; – Accommodation; – Marketing. • Promoting cultural activities and facilities. • Upgrading the urban environment of key population centres; completing the Karratha town centre upgrade project. • Investigate the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the Pilbara in order to reduce costs and increase required investments in the non-resources sector. • Making FIFO internal to the Pilbara, with the growth of the major centres as a residential base for FIFO workers working on remote projects.
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