Article – Hopes pinned on clear path

18 June 2015
Cairns Post

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott’s Northern Australia White Paper will be announced in Parliament today.

However, interpreting what it means for everyday Australians living in the Top End is the big question.

The paper is reportedly full of measures to “unlock the north’s full economic potential”, which is a positive, but interpreting exactly how this will be done is more challenging.

Buckets of money – with big-ticket items a $600 million roads package and $200 million water infrastructure fund – are being thrown at improvements. We can only hope these funds trickle down into real jobs and real growth for the northern end of Australia.

On paper these funds do sound substantial but when you consider northern Australia is the size of a European country and roads or general infrastructure are expensive, we can only hope our region will get a decent slice of the pie.

The six key initiatives – investing in infrastructure to lower business and household costs; simpler land arrangements to support investment; developing the north’s water resources; growing the north as a business, trade and investment gateway; reducing barriers to employing people; and improving governance – certainly sound good but where is the definitive direction?

We can only hope as this paper develops that so too do the items become more substantive.

There is no doubt the Northern Australia White Paper is a positive. Desperately needed funds and attention are being pointed in our direction and it’s a long-held gripe of northerners that regional areas are often neglected and capital cities all too often prioritised. So let’s hope the tangible benefits from this paper become clearer, leading to a positive end result of growth and more jobs.

Courtesy of Cairns Post

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