Article – National Planning for the Northern Food Bowl – Strategic Weekly Analysis

National consensus is needed to highlight the importance of developing Northern Australia in the ‘Asian Century’.
At a press conference on Friday 21st June, Tony Abbott released a major policy statement outlining the Coalition’s vision for Northern Australia, seen by some as a response to the government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper and National Food Plan and to the growing interest in Australia’s economic development beyond the mining boom.
Debate is ongoing about the potential for Northern Australia to be developed into a food bowl. Major General John Hartley has argued that a weakness of the National Food Plan is that it fails to convince the average Australian of the benefits to our country and its population generally of having a viable, long term and growing agricultural and pastoral sector. He has highlighted three reasons that we should support increased food production in Northern Australia.
Firstly, we will need food to feed ourselves and the generations who follow us. While we export roughly twice as much food as we presently need, our population will expand and we will require more food.
Secondly, we have the opportunity to export more food. The economic benefits from a national perspective, including employment, service, regional community sustainment and educational opportunities, should not be underestimated.
Thirdly, our national security could well be affected by food shortages that result in conflict within and between states. At the very least, this could lead to the displacement of populations who may well attempt to come to Australia. Providing food, or the means to grow more food, may improve regional security and prevent this from happening.
What is needed is a national plan, supported by all sides of politics and the media, that brings home to all people the need for a Australia to have a food producing capability that will be of benefit not just to present generations but those to come.