Article – 'Growing northern Australia' starts today in Mackay

31 March 2014
ABC Rural

PHOTO: Warren Entsch is chairing the committee hearings on the development of a Northern Australia white paper for the next six weeks across northern Australia. (Lukas Coch)

The first public hearing into the development of northern Australia started today in Mackay.
As part of the Federal Government’s plan to develop a white paper on northern Australia, there will be six weeks of hearings in the Northern Territory, as well as northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia.
Federal Liberal MP Warren Entsch is chairing the committee, focused on highlighting opportunities to develop the northern region and working out what ‘red and green tape’ needs to be dealt with.
He says one of the key objectives is to increase population.
“We’ve got to increase our population by finding ways that we can attract and retain more and more people in our region.
“We’ve got 40 per cent of (Australia’s) land mass. We could certainly do better than four per cent of the entire Australian population.”
Groups which made submissions to the Mackay hearing include local government, the fishing and farming industry, tourism operators, ports and universities.
“These people have put in their proposals on what they see needs to happen to develop the north, including what infrastructure we need to make this happen.”
One key industry for the Mackay region is fishing, but seafood wholesaler Dave Caracciolo stated in his submission that the future looks bleak.
He says ‘green zones’ restricting fishing and high input costs are the biggest issues, but he says if regulations were relaxed, they could go forward sustainably.
“I think the industry can increase.
“Anything going forward is a help, not a hindrance, it depends on what happens in Canberra.”
Chairman Warren Entsch says the government is committed to the plan which is due to be delivered to parliament by July 6, 2014.
“We need to make these things happen before the next federal election because we will be judged on the success or failure of this plan at the next election.”
The hearings will be in the Whitsundays on Tuesday and Townsville on Wednesday.
Courtesy of ABC Rural