Article – Governor General’s commitment to Northern Australia welcomed

13 November 2013
Mary V.
The commitment  by the Governor General in her speech to the Opening of the 44th Parliament to the development of Northern Australia by the Coalition government was welcomed by North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald today.
Speaking in the Senate this morning, Senator Macdonald said that he was determined to pursue the Northern Australia Development policy released by the Coalition before the election and vowed to ensure that the North would not be forgotten again.
“The potential of Northern Australia has long been recognised,” Senator Macdonald said.
“It is not just about water and mines, although 60 per cent of Australia’s rainfall falls above the Tropic of Capricorn and 60 per cent of our export earnings originate there, but there is so much more that Northern Australia offers.
“We have some very good agricultural industries. The northern beef cattle industry sustained a lot of the North and in one of the most criminally stupid decisions of any government at any time, the previous government banned the live cattle trade from Northern Australia, thereby destroying what had been a very significant Australian industry.” Senator Macdonald said that Asia was closely connected with Northern Australia. Indeed, he said, at one time it had formed an important trading bloc.
“By 2030 the Chinese middle classes will amount to 3.3 billion people, and those people will all want good food, access to education, to medical services, to scientific research and Northern Australia can contribute so much to this.
“We already have James Cook University, recognised world wide as top class and currently involved in extensive work on the Tropical Zone – the zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
“Northern Australia is one of the few developed countries in this zone and we have the opportunity to make the most of that.
“I was delighted that before the election the Coalition pledged $40 million to the Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine whose research is so essential not just to human health but to animal and plant health in the tropics.
“There are dangerous tropical diseases which we need to focus on – drug resistant tuberculosis in PNG is just one example which needs to be addressed.” He went on to talk about moving Defence resources to the North, to be near where they are needed for defence and for humanitarian purposes in Asia and the Pacific.
“Why we should have to steam two days from Sydney to get up into the North when those ships could be based in Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Broome or Port Hedland again escapes me.
“HMAS Cairns is the second biggest naval base on the east coast of Australia. It should be upgraded and more of our ships should be put there.
“I am delighted that in our Northern Australian policy we indicated that, subject to strategic consideration, we would be seriously looking at moving our defence forces further north, where they are more likely to be needed.” Senator Macdonald said that the wealth of Australia was in the North, but to get the wealth out good transport infrastructure was needed.
“It is good to see, for example,  that the current government has given $33 million to the Outback Way, a visionary road that will run from Laverton in Western Australia to Winton in Queensland, or effectively from Cairns to Perth. But there are many other roads that need to be fixed, we need a decent, workable road and rail network across Northern Australia.
“I congratulate the government on their commitment to Northern Australia which I am sure will be honoured as we expect of a Coalition government.”
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