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WA border to stay shut to international labour as jobs market heats up in mining, housing

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics population estimates released last week, WA’s major iron ore hubs – Port Hedland and Karratha – experienced a 2.2 per cent increase in population from 2019 to 2020, up to 14,804 and 17,482 respectively.

Further south in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the ABS figures suggested its population was just under 29,000, – where it sat around 1996 – but that figure was rubbished by mayor John Bowler and Kalgoorlie real estate stalwart Gavin Gilmore, who said the property and jobs markets told a different story.

Mr Gilmore said his agency was lucky to have one property for rent at a time.

“The fact is that accommodation is full, we are getting 20 and 30 people looking at one property and good quality accommodation is near on impossible at the moment,” he said.

Mr Gilmore said the state government needed to open up more land for development to help reduce the pressure on the market.

Mr Bowler said there was no way gold prices remaining above $2200 an ounce – as they had been for more than a year – wasn’t translating to more people living in Kalgoorlie.


“The number of drilling companies around here is staggering. You go on Seek or anywhere, there is a huge labour shortage,” he said.

It is a similar story in Karratha, with Karratha Chamber of Commerce president Tony Simpson reporting rent increases of up to $200 per house after the government rental moratorium ended in March.

“She is cutting loose again, we are heading back to the heyday,” he said.

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