Article – Push to Develop Top End

by 21 August 2014

13 August 2014
Get Broadacre

The Federal Government recently called for responses to the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia to develop a clear, well-defined policy platform for promoting economic growth.

The objective is to develop a food bowl, including premium produce, to double Australia’s agricultural output; build a $150 billion energy export industry with a major focus on clean and efficient energy; and grow the tourist economy in northern Australia to two million international tourists a year.

The Green Paper reminds industry that northern Australia is vital to our national economy, with 55 per cent of exports shipped through northern ports and agricultural production in the north worth more than $5 billion.

The north (classified as regions north of the Tropic of Capricorn) enjoys geographic advantages such as its proximity to burgeoning Asia economies but it is widely accepted that more needs to be done to realise its full economic potential.

The Green Paper sets out six policy directions to develop northern Australia further.

These include: delivering economic infrastructure; improving land use and access; improving water access and management; promoting trade and investment, and strengthening the business environment; fostering education, research and innovation; and enhancing governance.

Growcom provided feedback on the Green Paper. We strongly support the concept of maximising the potential of northern Australia.

However, they contend the focus should be on removing barriers and constraints to existing enterprises and growing regions and growing new markets, rather than opening up large green field sites for traditional horticultural produce.

There must be a clear primary focus on growing demand for Australian fruit and vegetables, both here and overseas, as there is already an issue with oversupply and low farm profitability.

The development of horticulture production in northern Australia should be done in conjunction with ongoing support for traditional southern production areas.

Growing areas such as the Lockyer Valley are amongst the best horticulture production areas in the world, due to a unique combination of climate, soil and water availability, enabling naturally low chemical and fertiliser use.

A vibrant horticulture industry in both northern and southern Queensland gives the distinct advantage of being able to supply quality fruit and vegetables year round.

Courtesy of Get Broadacre

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