The Pilbara MP believes half of the planned future population growth for the Barnett Government’s Pilbara Cities vision will need to come from international migration.
Rather than expecting eastern states families to move to Karratha or Port Hedland, he wants “large scale migration” from China, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan.
It comes as leading demographer Bernard Salt suggested a “nation-building project” – such as a new military base – could transform Karratha into a city of 100,000 people by mid-century.
Mr Grylls challenged the Abbott Government to match its rhetoric about developing the north with “real policy decisions”, calling for specific visa categories to encourage the population of Northern Australia.
He said now that rents had been “normalised” in the Pilbara there was a “great opportunity” for international families to meet the demand for small businesses, such as restaurants and cafes.
“Everyone talks about wanting this to happen – you politically have to do things and visa categories that support that vision is one thing the Commonwealth could really do,” Mr Grylls said.
“I’m prepared to put a number on it and, as the member for Pilbara, I would like to see 25,000 people from overseas migrate into the Pilbara in the next 20 years.”
Karratha and Pilbara will each be home to 50,000 people by 2035 under the Pilbara Cities plan, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars through Royalties for Regions.
Mr Grylls, the scheme’s architect, said opening the Pilbara to international migration from Australia’s northern neighbours in Asia was now his top priority.
“That international migration should come from our trading partners that we are building very, very strong relationships with: China, India, Korea, Indonesia, Japan,” he said.
“It’s a relationship based on our natural resources going to help them grow and modernise their economies. It makes eminent sense that we should work very closely with them to have some of the people that wish to come to Australia, to come to the northwest.
“We can take substantial population growth, we’re planned for it, we’re ready for it and we know our population for the scale of the towns is low.”
A “Designated Area Migration Agreement” is being trialed in Darwin to allow small businesses employ semi-skilled workers from overseas, with the Pilbara Regional Council lobbying for a similar deal in the Pilbara.
Mr Salt, head of KPMG Demographics, this week told a forum into Karratha’s future that it was not unrealistic for the city to be home to 100,000 people by the middle of the century.
He made the case for a nationally-funded project, such as a defence base equivalent to the Army’s Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, Queensland, to diversify the region’s economy.
“It needs to have a sufficient critical mass where there are a range of services that people are happy to live in that town for their entire life, rather than coming in at 24 and leaving at 54 because there’s nothing in the town,” he said.
“You get 100,000 people and services associated with that, then the town has greater cultural and lifestyle depth. Therefore people are more likely to hang around and you have a reservoir of labour that you can tap into when you are developing iron ore fields, logistic centres or military bases – rather than relying for the next century on people flying in and flying out.”
Nationals Leader Terry Redman, Minister for Regional Development, said a major military base in Pilbara made strategic sense.
“In 2017, when Wheatstone and Gorgon come on stream, the Pilbara as a region will be responsible for 40 per cent of the nation’s exports. Now, you tell me that doesn’t deserve a defence presence,” he said.
“There is major defence presence on the east coast and I think there is a very strong argument to say this is an exposed part of the nation’s defence efforts and given it’s so critically important and strategic to us as a nation … then that deserves more attention than what it’s getting.”
In January, the Pilbara Development Commission will release its Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, a road map for social and economic development of the region.
It plans for 200,000 people and the development of new industries around algae, food production, marine emergency response and renewable energies such as solar power.
PDC acting CEO Felicity Gilbert said the blueprint focused on “transformational projects”, including a proposed marine maintenance and fabrication complex.
She said major challenges ahead include the creation of an interconnected energy grid and simplifying the region’s complex land tenure system.
“We have a potential to develop the capacity to produce a lot of clean, green power and in the first instance that’s about getting power around the Pilbara but ultimately in 2050 we could be looking at exporting power into Asia,” Ms Gilbert said.
IT’S currently home to 20,000 crocodiles, 70 islands and a handful of people, but Lake Argyle has been identified as a future “city of the north”.
In a recent submission to the Federal Government’s inquiry into developing Northern Australia, think-tank ADC Forum calls for a “serious feasibility study” to examine the potential benefits of a city on the shores of the man-made lake.
Located near the WA and Northern Territory border in the East Kimberley, Lake Argyle — Australia’s largest expanse of freshwater — was created by the damning of the Ord River in 1971.
At ADC Forum’s Northern Development Summit in June, delegates endorsed a study by Fremantle-based landscape architecture firm for Lake Argyle as a city of 150,000 to 200,000 people by 2050.
Ecoscape managing director David Kaesehagen this week said the project was inspired by the Barnett Government’s Pilbara Cities plan for Port Hedland and Karratha.
His team set criteria such as permanent water and food supply, natural beauty, connections to a harbour and the potential for sustainable industry beyond mining.
After scouring the Pilbara and Kimberley they selected a 70,000 square kilometre site on the western side of Lake Argyle which benefits from flat terrain and cool winds.
Their vision, which last year took top prize in a competition to design a hypothetical second Australian capital city, imagines Lake Argyle as an eco-city focusing on water distribution, renewable energy and innovative “vertical farming”.
While started as an in-house project has captured the imagination and Mr Kaesehagen said the time was right for the future development of Northern Australia to be a priority.
“The size of Lake Argyle is pretty amazing, it’s a like a huge inland sea, and there’s lots of examples of cities on lakes around the world,” he said.
“People say the climate is bad, but it’s not bad compared to the Arab states which are working out how to live in hot climates on a huge population basis.”
West Coast Megaregion
LANCELIN, Jurien Bay and Dongara could become the cities of the future, according to researchers who say WA’s population growth should be spread along the coast to form a “megaregion”.
In their book, Made in Australia, Julian Bolleter and Richard Weller last year set-out their solution for how Australia can accommodate its projected population of 62 million people by 2101.
Rather than allowing cities such as Perth, Melbourne and Sydney to swell into “megacities”, they make the case for decentralisation to create a series of smaller linked cities along the west and east coasts.
Megaregions are defined as an area continually lit when viewed from a satellite and one example is “Bos-Wash” – the corridor from Boston to Washington on the east coast of the United States.
Stretching 590km from Geraldton to Busselton, and connected by a high speed rail, the West Coast Megaregion would be home to 10.5 million people by the end of the century, the academics envisioned.
As well as the trio of sleepy coastal towns on WA’s central coast, they suggest Busselton, Bunbury, Mandurah, Two Rocks and Geraldton as cities of 780,000 people each.
Dr Bolleter, of the Australia Urban Design Research Centre at the University of Western Australia, said Perth’s livability doesn’t need to be compromised by the projected population explosion.
“When you look at the 10 most livable cities on the planet, the biggest one is Sydney and that is 4.8 million. They are all under five million and by global standards they are all small cities,” he said.
“You don’t find Sao Paulo or Los Angeles on that list and that’s not to say L.A. doesn’t have its charms, but those larger cities tend to become more congested, have worse pollution and affordability issues.
“We think it’s a more livable outcome if you can have a chain of smaller cities which allow you access to affordable land and natural amenity like the coast.”
By 2050, he believes there will come a tipping point at which West Australians will be willing to commute by high-speed rail to work in Perth from one of the state’s “new cities”.
“We’re stuck in a binary debate between whether we sprawl more or whether we should infill more. We feel there is a third way, which is decentralisation of population,” he said.
“It would be ridiculous to now build a high speed rail link to Geraldton, but we think by mid-century the population pressures will really be coming to bear on Perth to the degree that people will trade-off an hour’s commute on the high speed rail link to have access to affordable land near the coast.”
Author – Peter Law
Source – http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/special-features/future-perth-was-other-cities-of-the-future/story-fnmx16d1-1227114640097?nk=7ce4d78fc74554461266dbe6e87d23d8