Article – A dream worth billions

13 July 2013
Andrea Davy

The Daily Mercury

MACKAY is tipped to become a development hot spot if the Liberal National Coalition wins  the upcoming election, according to Senator Ian Macdonald and Member for Dawson George  Christensen.
The pair spoke to key industry groups in Mackay yesterday morning during a public forum to  discuss the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia.
Senator Macdonald said the north had excellent tourism, agriculture and resource  opportunities and now was the time to capitalise on them.
“The plan has goals of doubling the north’s food production, and building medical and  education centres of excellence in the north,” Senator Macdonald said.
Mr Christensen said this pointed to Mackay becoming a hot spot for future expansion.
“Obviously the Mackay region, having all three of them (tourism, agriculture and resources)  is in a prime position to be a focal point for development,” he said.
However, Mackay had a lot more to offer than just resources, he said.
“We think we can export, not just goods, but services as well,” he said.
“We think exporting our skilled services in agriculture and in resources, can build to a  $7billion industry for northern Australia,” he said.
The north has experts in tropical agriculture, tropical medicine and tropical architecture –  three things developing countries will soon want, he said. But Mr Christensen said some  southerners still doubted the north’s potential.
“In terms of dollars, with comparison to population, and what we generate to the state and  national economies, we are punching well above our weight,” he said.
“People still think we are small country areas up here; they underestimate the population of  our cities,” Mr Christensen said.
Senator Macdonald said about 40% of the world’s population lived within the Tropic of  Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, yet Australia is one of the only developed countries.
He was confident also that Tony Abbott would be the nation’s next prime minister. “Our  commitment is within 12 months of being elected. We will issue a white paper, with the  things we want to achieve for this region,” Senator Macdonald said.