22 June 2014
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove is hoping to shine a light on economic opportunities in agriculture and progress being made on indigenous issues during a tour of northern Australia.
Sir Peter said the second phase of the Ord irrigation scheme near Kununurra was beginning to come to fruition, largely due to Chinese investment.
“It’s now possible to see, not just its future potential, but its present importance,” he told reporters after a tour of the Ord Stage Two Development on Sunday.
“I hope that all the negotiations for the Ord River project phase two can continue and we can see waving fields of sugar, sorghum and other crops in this beautifully irrigated part of Australia.”
He said the area around Kununurra in north Western Australia could produce life saving food for international markets.
Sir Peter is half way through a five day tour of the Northern Territory and north Western Australia, taking in the towns of Katherine, Kununurra and Wyndham as well as remote areas.
“I shine a light. I turn up to places where there is wonderful endeavour and it may not necessarily be solely economic, it might be more on social development or amenity for younger Australians,” he said.
“Or it might be to watch indigenous Australians who, whilst acknowledging that there is a gap to be closed, are working hard with specific programs to enhance indigenous health and to extend life expectation, to reduce infant illnesses and keep kids in school.”
After planting a tree with Girl Guides and chatting to volunteers on Sunday morning he said regional communities such as Kununurra had a strong volunteering spirit.
“What I like about rural and regional Australia, the more remote in some ways the better, is you’ll see the strength and interaction of communities,” he said.
“In towns in rural and regional Australia you see the interaction up close.”
Sir Peter, also visited the Kimberley squadron of the Australian army’s Norforce reserve unit.
“I’ve got a special place, I always will have a special place in my heart for people who put their country’s uniform on. Military, navy, army and airforce, but police, SES, anybody who provides a sense of service before self who takes on burdens that are inconvenient and stressful and sometimes hazardous to help other people.”
However, Sir Peter, who was commander of defence forces when Australia deployed troops to Iraq 11 years ago, declined to comment on how he felt about a fresh batch of troops being sent to Baghdad.
“On those sort of issues which are contemporary I would say that’s a matter for the government.”
Defence has sent a small unit of Australian Defence Force personnel to Baghdad to bolster security at the Australian embassy.
In coming days Sir Peter will visit the TFS Sandalwood plantations, indigenous groups, schools and attend a football training session at the Clontarf Foundation, of which he is patron.
Courtesy of Nine News
22 June 2014