Article – Government Moving to Develop Regional Australia

by 19 June 2014

11 June 2014
Brendan Howe
3w News

PHOTO: Warren Truss.

The Abbott government is delivering on its pledge to develop Northern Australia with more investment, infrastructure, jobs, and services.

“This was a key election commitment for the Coalition. It will open the North as a new frontier for Australia—economically and socially,” Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said.

The Coalition’s vision for opening northern Australia to development is taking shape with the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia released by Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss in Townsville yesterday.

Under the plan, the North would help double Australia’s farming output, majorly increase energy export with a major focus on clean and efficient energy, and grow international tourism to two visitors a year.

“The development of northern Australia is a priority,” Truss said. “Further growth and investment will have direct benefits across northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia; but that prosperity will spread to all Australians.”

The Government expects to reach its targets over the next 20 years. Truss says the vision is achievable and embraces the North’s strengths and natural advantages.

However, the Australian Conservation Foundation said the Abbott government pursuit of its vision could repeat costly mistakes in water development, such as those made in the Murray-Darling Basin, and lose the chance to keep the North’s valuable and iconic landscapes in good health.

“Our priorities for northern Australia should be to protect and build on our strengths  – not repeat the same development mistakes of southern Australia, such as the massive over-extraction of water from the Murray-Darling Basin,” said ACF’s Northern Australia program manager Graham Tupper.

Tupper says that extensive CSIRO science found that water in the north is limited and properly used and states further that the likelihood of northern Australia becoming a “food bowl” is not supported by evidence.

“The north is not suitable for big irrigated agriculture and the reasons are well-documented: a long dry season, poor soils, uncertain water availability and long distances to markets. “

However, the Abbott government and ACF both agree that one of the most valuable and employment rich sectors in northern Australia is tourism.

Truss pointed out that many natural resources attract visitors from all over the world and the North enjoys geographic advantages being close to growing Asia economies.

“Healthy landscapes underpin tourism, as well as the productivity of other valuable sectors, such as the fishing and prawn industry,” Tupper explained. “Keeping our national landscapes, such as the Kimberley, Kakadu, and the Wet Tropics, in good health must surely be a high priority for any government seeking to invest in an economically resilient and sustainable future for the north.”

Courtesy of 3w News

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