11 June 2014
The Cairns Post
The Federal Government yesterday released its draft policy document into developing the nation’s north, outlining six main focus areas including business, trade and investment.
Other areas include infrastructure, land access, water management, education, research and innovation, and governance.
The long-term plan says that beyond new opportunities in mining and resources, there are excellent prospects for expansion in agriculture.
It suggests potential to grow the crocodile meat and skins industry, with European fashion houses buying croc skins from northern Australian farms.
Ten per cent of the world crocodile skin market comes from Australian crocodiles, according to the paper.
Hartley’s Crocodile Farm spokeswoman Angela Freeman said there was definitely the capacity to further develop the industry, particularly in Cairns, but there needed to be support from the state and federal governments.
“The government support is zero at the moment,’’ she said.
“There’s really no funding that we can access.
“Really, from our point of view, this fits hand in glove with the crocodile management issue that we’re having at the moment.
“If we were able to get some funding to assist us with housing some of these larger crocs that are problematic – then we can look at putting some of these animals together and forming some more breeding colonies so we can get a little bit more volume happening, in terms of our breeding.”
Northern Australia expert and James Cook University associate professor Allan Dale said growing the croc meat industry would not be the Far North’s economic saviour.
“It may just be another one of those layers in the economy that gives us a bit more of the diversity that we really need – a bit of value-adding,’’ he said.
The paper says unlocking the potential of northern Australia would require government leadership that fosters private-sector investment and ingenuity.
Within the next 12 months, the Government will deliver its white paper on developing northern Australia to set a more defined policy platform for prompting growth across the region.
This will include a plan for implementing policies over the next two, five, 10 and 20 years.
The Government yesterday also announced members of its Northern Australia Advisory Group, which will provide advice on regional development to federal and state governments.
Former NT chief minister Shane Stone will chair the group, which also includes James Cook University vice-chancellor Sandra Harding, Advance Cairns director Ken Chapman and Advance Cairns chairman Trent Twomey, community consultant Noeline Ikin, grazier Ken Warriner, horticulturist David Menzel, pastoralist Jack Burton, businessman Nicholas Paspaley, northeast Arnhem Land indigenous leader Djawa Yunupingu and indigenous advocate Wayne Bergmann.
Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said the strong representation from the Far North demonstrated the capacity and importance of tropical North Queensland in Northern Australia’s development.
“The advisory group has a wealth of experience and will provide relevant and useful advice to national, state and territory leadership,’’ he said.
Courtesy of the Cairns Post