It is our duty to leave to future generations of Australians a robust and growing economy, something all the more achievable if we unleash the potential of Northern Australia.
The potential for economic development in Northern Australia is undeniable and developing the North should be a priority for all levels of government. We are doing a great disservice to future generations if we do not capitalise on the abundant opportunities in the region.
These opportunities don’t just exist in the mining and resources sector, but in agriculture, renewable energy, medicine, education, tourism, communications and across the full spectrum of human activity.
There is also huge potential for Northern Australia to become the high quality, high gross margin food bowl for Asia. We currently feed 60 million people a year. With sensible water catchment and deployment of the latest agricultural, transport and logistics technology, Australia could feed 120 million, or many more.
Moreover CSIRO ( 2015) estimated that 60% of Australia’s total annual rainfall falls in Northern Australia and only a very small percentage of that is captured. If this water is harnessed and used effectively, it could have significant positive implications for water storage, flood mitigation, power generation and innovative irrigation schemes.
There is one statistic which sums up more than any other why we must develop the North. By 2020, more than half the world’s middle class will be in Asia and Asian consumers will account for over 40 per cent of global middle class consumption. Australia’s proximity to Asian markets is unrivalled and the exploding Asia-Pacific middle class is already creating huge new mass markets. It will also create very large niche markets suited to the higher cost, quality goods and services available in Australia.
Asia is the new growth market and, as the OECD report suggests, the growth will occur in the immediate future, practically overnight. If Australia is to take advantage of this historic opportunity, then we should start now by transforming the North of Australia.
Northern Australia is on Asia’s doorstep and we would be foolish not to use this competitive advantage.
In 2019 ( ABS cat 5638) WA, NT and Queensland were responsible for $277 B of Australia’s exports or 71% of Australian’s total annual exports. With the right policies there is potential for this to grow and for value adding processing to be established.