Collie demands answers as uncertainty threatens town

EditorialSouth Western Times

The community of Collie has taken a proactive stance as it moves to gain greater security for its future.

In the fourth and latest in a series of community meetings on Friday, this time they had the ear of Energy Minister Bill Johnston.

Let’s hope they were heard.

Make no mistake, a prosperous Collie is crucial to the economic health of Bunbury and the broader South West.

Tensions simmered throughout Friday’s meeting as Collie residents who have spent their whole working lives in coal mines and at power stations, voiced their concerns about how outsiders seemed to have condemned their industries.

Small business owners feeling a flow-on effect from a downturn in wages within the town’s industries were also up in arms as they described how close they were to closing their doors for good.

The gathered community was told not to panic by those in power because nothing was going to change tomorrow and there was hard work being done behind closed doors, but how long is that line going to continue being palatable to those on the ground in Collie?

How many stores have to be shut down and how many times does industry need to cut wages before something is done?

Mr Johnston spoke about how the State Government was making Collie a more attractive prospect for new industries by providing monetary incentives, but how attractive is a town full of empty shops with skilled people who are all too ready to leave?

The solutions to the issues Collie faces are not going to become easier to find with time and there is not one magic bullet.

More ministers will attend the next meeting in March and they need to listen.

Then they need to tell everyone else in parliament how much pressure the people of Collie are under and they need to act to ease that angst.

There are a lot of positives in the Collie region, including opportunities for industrial development and tourism.

The State Government needs to do all it can to foster these opportunities and help further the diversification of the region’s economy.

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