Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia, 16–18 November 2021 2021

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Pip Kirby

A/Director Regional Development – Collie, South West Development Commission

Pip Kirby


The Town Writing Its Own History: driving Collie’s economic diversification through collaboration and self-determination.

For over 100 years, the small industrial town of Collie in Western Australia has been busy getting on with doing what it does best: being the powerhouse of the State’s SWIS, generating electricity for the southern part of WA since the discovery of coal there in the late 1880s.

The better global understanding of the impact of climate change and subsequent reduced demand for coal-fired power have created challenges at a rate unforeseen by many in the town.

As a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, Australia has committed to ensuring that the nation’s workforces affected by the agreement’s target of maintaining global temperatures within 2 degrees of preindustrial levels, will be looked after and supported in the global transition to a low carbon emissions future.

These targets bring with them logistical challenges for WA. Collie doesn’t have the existing diversity of other transitioning economies to draw from. With a slowly declining population, it doesn’t have the scale of the Latrobe Valley and its workforce catchment. It doesn’t have the geographical advantages of the coal-fired power plants of Germany, where others have found themselves in similar situations and with similar transition timeframes. The technology to generate and store electrical power in huge quantities needs to be secured long before the coal-fired power stations that underpin the electrical system can be switched off.

This presentation from the SWDC will outline the work of the State Government’s Collie Delivery Unit; a focussed and targeted cross-agency office dedicated to all aspects of Collie’s transition into a more diverse economy.