The Shire of East Pilbara is hoping that the West Australian Local Government Association will advocate to the State and Federal governments to address the dire housing shortage for key workers in the Pilbara. At the Shire’s July ordinary council meeting the council agreed to put a motion at the WALGA annual general meeting that the peak body advocate to the Commonwealth and State government to address the dire shortage of affordable key-worker family housing options in regional and remote towns. The lack of affordable worker housing continues to plague the region with Pilbara News recently reporting how small businesses were discouraged from expanding due to their inability to source staff amid a shortage of housing. Deputy Shire president Wendy McWhirter Brooks said government did a good job supplying social housing but more investment was needed to provide housing for key workers in the Pilbara. “The Shire advocates for housing to the State and Federal governments in our advocacy program,” she said. “But what I am seeing is that we have strong advocacy and strong response from the Federal and the State governments for social housing and we have promises for social housing, there is a $10 billion fund for social housing, which is great but it’s not fixing the problems that our businesses have. “We want businesses and people investing in our towns so that we can improve our rating base and to improve economically as a town we need to fix the housing for our workers.” The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre previously revealed to the North West Telegraph that the median rental prices in the major Pilbara centres of Port Hedland and Karratha had increased 92.7 per cent and 82.7 per cent respectively in the previous five years. Both towns also had a vacancy rate of 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively. Cr McWhirter Brooks represented the Pilbara Development Commission at the Developing Northern Australia Conference in July. She said that from her discussions at the conference the crisis was plaguing the entire northern region of the country and that new approaches and fresh ideas were need to fix the problem. “Housing is a problem everywhere. Housing isn’t bankable, if I build an $800,000 house here in Newman next week, as soon as I put a key in the door it’s only worth $400,000, so banks will not lend me money on that,” she said. “That’s a common problem everywhere across northern Australia, except Brisbane, and we need to find a very creative strategy to fix our housing problem. “And it’s not the same ones that we’ve been using or advocating for. I don’t know what the answer is.” The Shire will also ask the WALGA State Council to request the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal review mileage and travel allowances for councillors in remote areas and that the council review the LGIS coverage of windscreen and vehicle damage for remote councils so that damage from unsealed roads is included in the coverage. The WALGA annual general meeting will be held in Perth on September 19.