24 June 2014
North West Star
THE Australian Parliament’s Northern Australia Committee has tabled an interim report as part of its inquiry into the development of the region.
Committee chairman Warren Entsch said the inquiry has generated a lot of community interest and high expectations.
In response, the committee has undertaken an extensive program of travel, comprising 19 hearings and inspections across Northern Australia.
The committee has received 287 submissions and 49 exhibits and has programmed six, week-long public hearing and inspections visits as well as several one-day hearings in capital cities.
Amongst its tasks, the committee has been asked to identify significant opportunities for the development of Northern Australia.
“There is potential to expand the resources sector in the North as well as introducing more intensive agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture,” Mr Entsch said.
“There are opportunities to grow both domestic and international tourism, increase education opportunities and promote research on health, energy and food production in the North.
“There could also be a more northerly focus of Australia’s defence forces, building on current assets in North Queensland and the Northern Territory.”
The committee has also been asked to identify impediments to developing the area.
“There are a number of major impediments to economic and social development,” Mr Entsch said.
“These include the absence of economic infrastructure; the cost of power and water; access to telecommunications; land tenure arrangements; lengthy approvals processes and the lack of consistency of processes and requirements between jurisdictions.”
The committee will be tabling its final report and recommendations to the Parliament in September.
Information on the inquiry is available on the committee website at www.aph.gov.au/jscna
Courtesy of the North West Star
24 June 2014