Brendan Grylls, MP for the Pilbara, Western Australia has a vision of expanding the local population with 25,000 international migrants over the next 20 years.
The Australian state's highest profile politician wants to "take the lid off" population growth in the Pilbara by encouraging an influx of overseas arrivals from Australia's major trading partners in Asia.
Rather than expecting families from within Australia to move into the Pilbara region, Grylls has commented that he wants "large scale migration" from China, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan.
Western Australia is famous for its booming mining sector
Migrants from Asia particularly welcome in WA
The Pilbara region is of strategic importance to Australia's defence leading to calls for a major military base to be located there. Nationals Leader Terry Redman, Minister for Regional Development said a military base in Pilbara made "strategic sense".
"You get 100,000 people and services associated with that and then the town has greater cultural and lifestyle depth," he said. "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, logistics centres or military bases – rather than relying for the next century on people flying in and flying out."
"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 its so critically important and strategic to us as a nation, that deserves more attention than what its getting," he added.
The Pilbara of strategic military importance
MP Brendan Grylls challenged Australia's government to match its rhetoric about developing the north of the country with "real policy decisions", calling for specific visa categories to encourage population growth in the Pilbara.
Grylls also commented that he felt rents had been "normalised" in the region, offering a "great opportunity" for international families to meet the demand for small business in the Pilbara.
The Karijini National Park - an area of outstanding natural beauty
According to the Pilbara Cities Plan, Karratha and Pilbara will each be home to 50,000 people by 2035. The region has received hundreds of millions of dollars through Royalties for Regions in support of this population expansion over the next few years.
Government fully supportive of the Pilbara's expansion
Grylls is very specific about which nations should be encouraged to migrate to the Pilbara stating that "international migration should come from our trading partners that we are building very, very strong relationships with: China, India, Korea, Indonesia and 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 in low."
Regional government looks to develop new industries
A "Designated Area Migration Agreement" is being piloted in Darwin to allow small businesses to employ semi-skilled workers from overseas, now a similar scheme is being lobbied for in the Pilbara.
In January 2015, the Pilbara Development Commission will publish its Pilbara Regional Investment Blueprint, essentially a road map for social and economic development of the region.
The Goanna lizard, one of many species of creature found only in this part of the world
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.
Felicity Gilbert, CEO of the Commission said the blueprint focused on "transformational projects", including a proposed marine maintenance and fabrication complex.
The Pilbara earmarked for exponential growth to 2035
She indicated there were major challenges ahead including this 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.
A region incredibly rich in valuable natural resources, the Pilbara is earmarked by the Australian government as being a region set to experience considerable growth, underpinned by nationally-funded projects aimed at supporting a diverse and growing population.
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- Monday 10 November 2014