Premier Mark McGowan unveils plan to keep Pilbara strong

Posted on January 13, 2021
  • Re-elected McGowan Labor Government’s major package of job-creating initiatives 
  • Plan to create jobs and training opportunities and support vital services like schools and hospitals
  • Full Plan for Pilbara available at 

Premier Mark McGowan has unveiled the Plan for Pilbara, a re-elected McGowan Government’s comprehensive package to keep the Pilbara strong by creating jobs and training opportunities, supporting the local economy and investing in important services like health and education. 

Over the past four years, the McGowan Labor Government has invested more funding  into regional WA, more than any other government in history. The McGowan Government guaranteed the future of Royalties for Regions, as promised, but also significantly increased funding for the regions across all areas of government.

The Plan for Pilbara will see that investment continue, through commitments in tourism, schools, TAFE, roads, hospitals and community facilities. 

The McGowan Labor Government has made TAFE a priority. As part of the highly successful Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative, TAFE fees have been slashed by up to 72 per cent, so more people can get quality training.

As part of the $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan, the McGowan Labor Government undertook the biggest TAFE capital works program in history, including $22 million for a trades expansion at North Regional TAFE Pundulmurra (South Hedland) and $5 million for a new classroom block at North Regional TAFE Minurmarghali Mia (Roebourne).

A re-elected McGowan Labor Government will continue the strong investment in TAFE and measures that create better career pathways for young Western Australians by:

  • upgrading equipment across the State’s TAFEs giving students access to more industry standard and state of the art equipment, including x-ray technology for Agriculture, 3D printers, drones and more; 
  • supporting students to access school based apprenticeship programs, and prioritising STEM courses that have been evaluated by industry as suitable for school students; and
  • ensuring local flexibility for schools to negotiate the most suitable courses and delivery arrangements with their local TAFE colleges and local industries.

The Plan for Pilbara will continue the McGowan Labor Government’s strong investment in job creating projects to drive tourism, including:

  • $10 million for improved visitor facilities at key recreation sites at Karijini National Park, including Dales and Weano Gorges, including a new campground, cultural walk trail and interpretive facilities, and sealing road access to the most popular gorge sites, including Weano Gorge, Karijini Eco Retreat and Dales Gorge to enable hire cars and coaches to travel safely to these sites;
  • $5 million for improvements to visitor facilities at Conzinc Bay in Murujuga National Park, to support increased visitation associated with the Murujuga Living Knowledge Centre, as well as the management of islands on the Dampier Archipelago, supported by Murujuga Aboriginal Rangers; and
  • $19.8 million across the State to make travel for regional residents more affordable. 

A re-elected McGowan Labor Government will continue its strong investment in quality education in the Pilbara. The Plan for Pilbara includes:

  • $3.5 million expansion of Baler Primary School in South Hedland;
  • $5.5 million for a new classroom block at Baynton West Primary School in Karratha;
  • $3.5 million for a new classroom block at Cassia Primary School in South Hedland;
  • $1 million to upgrade air conditioning and refurbish the music hall at Dampier Primary School;
  • $750,000 to upgrade bitumen surfaces at Tambrey Primary School in Karratha;
  • A new STEM classroom for Newman Senior High School;
  • Investment in science resources for primary school students at primary schools, district high schools, and remote community schools across the Pilbara, including Port Hedland School of the Air; and
  • $1 million further state-wide investment to support the growth of the award winning Better Beginnings program to enhance children’s literacy and education attainment, and support the delivery of the program more equitably to regional communities, particularly remote Aboriginal communities.

The McGowan Labor Government is committed to ensuring Western Australians have access to high quality healthcare, regardless of where they live. The Plan for Pilbara includes:

  • $14.7 million for the construction of a Step Up/Step Down community mental health facility in South Hedland;
  • $10 million boost to health initiatives at the Karratha Health Campus;
  • $6 million for an MRI Unit at South Hedland Hospital;
  • $2.7 million for the replacement of the accommodation for Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service Staff in Jigalong;
  • An increase to the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) accommodation subsidy to $100 per night, supporting Pilbara residents to travel and find accommodation when attending medical appointments away from home, including an increase to escort eligibility for disadvantaged and vulnerable people;
  • More than $250 million in additional healthcare investment across regional WA, including a partnership with the Karratha Women’s Health Care Place to pilot a women’s community health service in the West Pilbara; and
  • Expansion of the Community Paramedic Model across the State to ensure the Pilbara has more professional, paid paramedics, increasing the reliability of country ambulance services and improving the parity of regional sub-centres with the metro area.

After delivering a record investment in regional roads in its first term of government, a re-elected McGowan Labor Government will oversee another significant investment into regional roads, including:

  • A further $52 million into the now $507 million Regional Road Safety Program to invest in repairing, rebuilding and road safety treatments on tens of thousands of kilometres of country roads;
  • An additional $14.8 million towards the now $251.8 million Regional Road Upgrades Program, upgrading intersections, adding new lanes, widening roads, upgrading signage and improving visibility; and
  • $5 million to increase the number of Truck Rest Stops on our major regional roads, including improved amenities for freight drivers and tourists.

To help Western Australians stay active, healthy, and connected with their local community, a re-elected McGowan Labor Government will also invest $10 million for improvements to the Port Hedland Sporting and Community Hub.

As part of the McGowan Government’s record $28.8 billion pipeline of work, a number of major infrastructure projects are underway in the Pilbara. The WA Buy Local policy will ensure these projects will deliver ongoing jobs for locals over the next few years. 

Major projects underway include the $310 million Manuwarra Red Dog Highway stages 3 and 4, $121.5 million Port Hedland Spoilbank Marina, $71.2 million Port of Port Hedland upgrades, $60.4 million redevelopment of Newman Health Service, $42 million Roebourne District High School upgrades, $22 million Karratha Senior High School upgrades, $15 million Hedland Senior High School upgrades, $22 million North Regional TAFE Pundulmurra (South Hedland) trades expansion, $5 million for new classroom block at North Regional TAFE Minurmarghali Mia (Roebourne), $10 million Murujuga Road upgrade, $14.8 million Karratha Step Up / Step Down community mental health facility, $1.7 million Battery Energy System in Marble Bar, $1.02 million Karijini National Park – Fortescue Falls Lookout and Dales campground upgrades, $450,000 Roebourne Gaol Conservation, and Social Housing Economic Recovery Package including maintenance, refurbishments and new builds of 2,640 homes in the Pilbara.

Pilbara residents will also benefit from a new, State-wide $19.8 million airfares package to make regional flights more affordable for local residents, supporting the region’s economic development.

The Plan for Pilbara includes countless additional commitments to ensure the Pilbara remains strong, long into the future. To read the full plan, visit 

Comments attributed to Premier McGowan:

“A re-elected WA Labor Government will keep the Pilbara strong by continuing to make local jobs our number one priority.

“My government will continue efforts to reduce interstate FIFO and focus on delivering job-creating major projects to local companies and local workers.

“The Plan for Pilbara will carry on our significant work over the last four years to revitalise our TAFE sector, build quality local schools and health services, improve regional roads and support local tourism.

“My government has invested more in regional WA than any government in history. Our strong budget management and Plan for Pilbara will ensure the region’s future is stronger than ever.”

Comments attributed to Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel:

“Premier Mark McGowan’s leadership has steered Western Australia through COVID-19, keeping our economy strong and community safe.

“The Plan for Pilbara will provide our region with the roadmap we need to make sure we bounce back stronger than ever.

“The Pilbara’s economy has been the engine room of the nation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the Plan for Pilbara will ensure we continue to recover strongly in coming years.