Group meets to help drive the economy

The steering committee and reference group met on June 22 at the South West Regional TAFE Collie campus. Photo: Breeanna Tirant
The steering committee and reference group met on June 22 at the South West Regional TAFE Collie campus. Photo: Breeanna Tirant

The new ministerial steering committee that was formed to oversee an economic development plan for the region held its second meeting recently, along with the first meeting for the reference group. 

The steering committee which is chaired by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan includes Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray,  Bunbury MLA Don Punch, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Bladivis MLA Reece Whitby, which aims to explore ways to diversify Collie’s industry and drive job growth.

The broad reference group had their first meeting which makes up of unions, businesses, local government and community leaders to have their into the process. 

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said it was a process of rebuilding the economy. 

“It’s going to be a tough time, we aren’t going to be able to solve the problems overnight but we are hoping over the next two or three years we can start to rebuild,” she said. 

 Ms MacTiernan said there were a range of new industries that could be introduced into the region. 

“Coal is going to be here for some time, but we know we have seen job losses so we have to have diversity in the community, it’s not saying that we are walking away from coal overnight but we do need to build other opportunities,” she said.

“There is a whole raft of new industries around bio-fuels, protected cropping in agriculture, lithium processing.”

She said the steering committee looked at research that was conducted with Collie and found it could be a potential location for a bio-mas industry. 

“We have been looking at the new bio mass industries, that’s not just about burning bio mas for energy but about using these for a creation of a whole range of chemical products, nutraceutical products,” she said.

“So we are doing more work on that and it turns out that Collie is an area where there is a higher bio mas surplus that could be utilised.”

Ms MacTiernan also said the committee got updated reports on getting both the Kemerton and Shotts industrial areas into ‘a state of being very project-ready.’

“At the moment Shotts has quite a lot of infrastructure to it, it hasn’t got the water infrastructure, unlike Kemerton, which is probably the big issue but we are conscious, in relation to that we need to find out what projects need to go there and might want to go to Kemerton,” she said. 

She said the development plan was set out in ‘layers’ and hopefully the Collie Small Grants Fund would help kick start small businesses over the next year.