Article – Growth needs sturdier base

11 July 2014
NT News

THE closure of the Frances Creek iron ore mine at Pine Creek is a sobering reality check as politicians of all colours wax on about the development of Northern Australia.

Pine Creek now faces the same fate as Nhulunbuy – the loss of the town’s lifeblood industry will send hundreds of workers away and in turn damage local businesses that support the population.
While the downturn of the iron ore industry can perhaps be blamed, there are much deeper issues at play.
If we want to pretend that Northern Australia can rise from the red dust to become an economic powerhouse, we need diverse economies not reliant on the fortunes of a single industry.
Darwin is, undoubtedly, an economic success story.
While there are some who would suggest we are too reliant on gas, others would point to the strength of the Defence, public sector and service industries.
It is doubtful whether anywhere in the Territory, outside the capital, is equipped to support the sort of growth our pollies want.
Just ask the people of Pine Creek.
In the 1890s there were reportedly 15 mines operating in the area, supporting a population of about 3000 people.
The fact that we’re talking about the death of the town 120 years later shows how fragile grand plans for lasting development can be.
At the very least, what the Pine Creek example proves is that the development of Northern Australia will not occur by simply creating isolated economic opportunities in remote communities.
We cannot simply plant some magic beans and expect the result to be a golden egg-laying goose.
Deeper seeds must be sown, otherwise the loose talk of politicians will result in another false dawn.
Courtesy of NT News

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