Article – Truss points to north’s future

by 5 August 2014

1 August 2014
Tom Zaunmayr
Pilbara News

Northern Australia is a critically important yet under-utilised asset for Australia, according to Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.

Delivering his keynote speech at the Pilbara Pulse economic summit, Mr Truss said there was huge potential for growth in northern Australia.

“By 2040, Deloitte forecasts that northern Australia will account for nearly 40 per cent of the Australian economy,” he said.

“Despite its national, geographical and physical assets, we have not made the most of the north.

“We need to create an environment that encourages strategic planning and investment.”

Mr Truss said recent improvements to efficiency and productivity measures were encouraging.

The Pilbara is home to the two biggest export ports in the world, a fact Mr Truss said was staggering.

“On a global level this is indeed a flagship community, it is a critical part of our national income,” he said.

“What you do locally is big enough to affect the whole nation’s economic figures.”

Mr Truss said ignoring the region’s need for investment and growth would be turning our backs on real opportunities for the future.

One of the big growth areas in northern Australia is agriculture.

WA Department of Food and Agriculture director-general Rob Delane said the Pilbara could produce 10 to 20 times more beef.

“The real opportunity is to move in to the food ‘wants’,” he said.

“You can have great demand but there is incredible competition around the world, so we need to be clever about what we are doing.

“If you are thinking about getting into the food business, you have got to think about what that story is.”

Mr Delane suggested creating a story around red dirt and red meat to sell Pilbara produce to Asian markets.

Despite huge growth projections, Mr Delane said describing us as a major food bowl for Asia was misguided.

“We will be a bigger but still relatively small food bowl for Asia … because they are a pretty big food bowl themselves,” he said.

“We are one of the cleanest food bowls in the world, which is very attractive for Asia. We need to link up with some of those companies that use the premium ingredients that we have a reputation for.”

Local MP Brendon Grylls said world demand for Pilbara produce would drive economic growth to create a more exciting and sustainable City of Karratha.

Courtesy of Pilbara News

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