Article – Former treasurer DeLacy says north must be developed

by 23 April 2015

16 April 2015
Eric Johnston
The Australian

The development of northern Australia presents a “great opportunity” for Australia to help feed growing demand for food globally, according to Keith DeLacy, a former treasurer of Queensland.

Mr DeLacy, who is proposing a $2 billion sugar and cattle project, said the fundamentals for the region were in place, including water, land and sunshine. However, the lack of infrastructure that was crimping development.

“We’ve got an obligation, of course, to feed a hungry world or to do our share in feeding a hungry world, and northern Australia presents a great opportunity,” Mr DeLacy told the Global Food Forum yesterday.

Meanwhile, David Crombie, the director of listed beef producer Australian Agricultural Co, also told the conference that northern Australian production needed to target a rising Asian middle class.

“The mega-trend for Asia is obviously population growth. Now, what comes with that economic growth is not only increased demand but it’s also a fragmentation of the market. And with the fragmentation of the market there’s an opportunity for positioning different food products and quality products at different price points,” Mr Crombie said.

“Northern Australia in particular needs to focus into those areas.”

Water resources will remain key to the region and efficiency is important.

“If water is allocated on a fragmented and a small basis, you really get no economic development out of it at all. You’ve got to have an overall strategic plan to make sure it all works. And I think it should be allocated on the basis of the amount of production or value of production that you can get per litre or per megalitre,” Mr DeLacy said.

“And you would want to be very, very strategic about the dams that you’re going to build. We’ve got a view that all water storage ought to be off river.”

Meanwhile, Mr DeLacy said offshore investors would be open to putting funds into northern Australia — including greenfield projects — but there was a lack of opportunities.

“They really want to invest in Australia and agriculture in Australia. They see it as a surrogate for the growth in Asia.”

DeLacy seeks northern exposure

Courtesy of The Australian

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