What needs to be done?
In order to realise the possibilities which exist, policies must be put in place which will attract investment and encourage growth in Northern Australia.
What ANDEV hopes to achieve will not just improve Northern Australia but the entire nation.
Some of these policies should include:
Special Economic Zones
ANDEV supports the creation of a ‘Northern Economic Zone’ that will offer tax advantages to attract and retain investment. Special Economic Zones have been very successful internationally in encouraging economic growth in underdeveloped regions. The zone may offer, for example:
- Lower personal income tax or tax rebates for those who live and work in the Northern Zone
- No payroll tax
- No fringe benefits tax
- No stamp duty
One-stop-shops for regulation
One of the major factors deterring investment in Northern Australia is the lengthy regulatory process which must be completed before a new project can begin. The situation would be vastly improved if regulation was streamlined and environmental approvals were fast-tracked.
One way to achieve this is to have one-stop-shops to administer and enforce regulations on behalf of all levels of government.
This would replace the current system which duplicates approvals between state and federal government leading to costly delays.
It is particularly important that environmental regulation, or ‘green-tape’, is streamlined to create more jobs, wealth and opportunities.
Regional skilled migration visas
Skills shortages are widespread across Northern Australian industries, but particularly in the resources sector. In order to combat these shortages, the government must make it easier for skilled migrants to live and work in North Australia. One way to do this would be through migration agreements where a condition of the visa is that a person lives and works in the regions of Northern Australia.
To make the most of the exciting agricultural possibilities in Northern Australia, we must encourage dam construction and investment in irrigation to make better use of North Australia’s abundant annual rainfall. If water is harnessed effectively, then it can support agricultural development and the creation of a Northern Food bowl as well as other water-dependant initiatives.
For industries and communities to prosper, an integrated transport plan that provides the road, rail, port and air infrastructure to facilitate the movement of goods and services and to provide ease of access to the region and beyond is required. In order to fund this, the private sector should be encouraged to invest in infrastructure, through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) where necessary. Private sector involvement will help drive economic growth and can take various forms including technical assistance contracts; build, own and operate contracts; and complete privatisation. There is also the opportunity for the government to form PPPs with the private sector.
Northern Australia is different from the rest of the country. To achieve its potential, it requires policies tailored to the needs of the region and the communities, and not inflexible, one-size-fits-all policies which do not encourage expansion.
Northern Australia has been ignored for too long. The opportunities are boundless. ANDEV’s vision is to make sure that Northern Australia’s potential is realised.