Dongas Doomed!

There’s an old, old joke that goes something like this:

First guy: I’ve been reading a lot lately about the dangers of smoking. I’m going to have to quit.

Second guy: You’re going to give up smoking?

First guy: No. I’m going to stop reading.

While I’m not seriously advocating giving up reading will help you escape the perils of nicotine, it is true that bad news needs to be properly evaluated – and then used to your advantage.

Truth is, I’ve traditionally used bad news to identify opportunities, and that’s because when bad news is aired most people run for cover which leaves the path to opportunity clear for people who know how to accurately evaluate what they hear and have the courage of their convictions to act on the information.

You’d think all this was leading me to reveal some really bad news before suggesting a strategy to advance our own interests in the face of such adversity, but no, the news that started this train of thought was actually some really good news for people who do what we do – niche developments in economically active, remote locations.

The really good news is that illegal accommodation is to be removed from the mining town of Paraburdoo in WA’s Pilbara and other towns, including Onslow and Tom Price have been given notice they will soon be audited.

Now it should be obvious why that news is music to our ears, because we’re in the business of providing quality housing to hard working tax payers, and no one will tell me that they deserve anything less.

The illegal housing sprouted when any accommodation was deemed “good enough” for workers forced to commute to remote locations where they toiled manfully (and were well paid for their labour) while making gazillions for mining barons and working miracles with our country’s balance of payments.

The illegal dwellings were called dongas and came about because they were needed in a hurry owing to the lack of “proper” accommodation. Sure, they served a purpose, but they weren’t really fit for long term human habitation and now that the development of economically active remote locations is progressing well, it makes sense authorities such as councils want a better class of building for housing workers in their dominions.

A recent council inspection showed that 11 out of the 22 lots in Paraburdoo's light industrial area had unauthorised accommodation, ranging from two to 12 rooms per lot, with rooms containing various combinations of bed and bunk provisions. And that is not a good look for any council.

And even better news was delivered by Ashburton Shire chief executive Neil Hartley who said Paraburdoo was not the only town affected.

"This occurs in every industrial area across the Pilbara," he added.

“The solution is to offer vacant blocks for either businesses or investors to build residential accommodation that will allow workers living quarters to move out of the industrial area."

When the universe unites to throw you such a bunch of bananas, you’d be a monkey’s uncle to not peel a few for a feast!

Paul Bieg

Director - BIG Property Investments