Is Port Hedland Now too expensive to live, work and retire in?
According to Port Hedland’s Pilbara Port City Growth Plan, its aims for Port Hedland is to be “a nationally significant, friendly, City, where people want to live and proud to call home”. It also provides a “high level strategic blueprint to facilitate the sustained growth of Port Hedland… with a population of 50,000 people”.
Unfortunately these aims have fallen at the first hurdle – namely affordability and diveresity. Ref: http://www.porthedland.wa.gov.au/CouncilInitiative/pilbaras-port-city-growth-plan/ppc-growth-plan-second-draft/
The front page of the North West Telegraph, 6 June 2012, tells the story of “once profitable [Port] Hedland small businesses are closing their doors at an alarming rate, crippled by skyrocketing rents and wages”.
The list of small business closures go on:
- Bright Eyes
- Sunwonder Health Foods
- Frogs Gelato
- Zagnits Clothing Co
- Noa’s Ark
- Studio Armani (closing next week)
- Port Boutique (closing down sale now on)
For Port Hedland to be city with 50,000 people, it must offer affordability for small business and retirees, and a diversity of employment and accommodation pricing.
The Growth Plan offers 5 core themes relating to economic growth, communities, housing, environment and infrastructure. These themes offer nothing new, nothing that is going to directly address the loss of locals from Port Hedland who cannot afford to live, work and retire unless they work in mining or provide a direct service to mining.
Port Hedland’s history since 1896 is not built on mining, it’s built on local families offering a diverse range of services and industries. Mining came afterwards and it complemented the town’s business offerings.
Port Hedland’s residents were so confident in the 1960s that mining would not dominate the town as a sole employment offering, that they agreed to a deal by the State Govt. where mining companies would not pay rates to the Council for the land they occupied. This is still the case today even though the pool of ratepayers is diminishing rapidly, leaving just the hardy souls to fork out more for rate increases.
People working in mining earning a compressed lifetime of income from 12 hour shift work would appreciate diversity and options for their hard earned hours. Port Hedland Now has less and less to offer with eight family owned businesses closing down, and more and more options to fly-in and fly-out. The employment ads by the mining companies confirms their preference for FIFO to keep the costs down and the employees happy with options.
The PPC Growth Plan to fill Port Hedland with 50,000 people falls at the first hurdle. It fails to offer any solutions to affordability and diversity, and it ignores the local families who can deliver services and industries as the primary driver for a vibrant city. Mining should complement the town, not dominate it.