Article – Nation’s north must trade its way to prosperity, says Andrew Robb

21 May 2014
Annabel Hepworth
The Australian

PHOTO: Andrew Robb is expected to argue that Australia could double its output of food by developing the arable soil in the north. (Brendan Radke)

A KEY architect of the Coalition’s policy to develop northern Australia will today flag using trade to boost the region and say it is “dead wrong” that Australia should protect local industries when other countries do.

The Australian has learned that in a speech in Melbourne today, Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will hit out at calls to subsidise domestic industries.
In speaking notes seen by The Australian, Mr Robb says the playing field is “often” not level.
“But the conclusion that Australia should also tilt the playing field because other countries subsidise and protect their industries is dead wrong,” the notes say.
This has been a sensitive issue after the government has taken a hard line stance on corporate welfare, with the opposition having attacked its approach after companies including Alcoa, Holden and Toyota have announced plant closures in recent months.
Mr Robb is expected to argue that Australia could double its output of food by developing the arable soil in the north, and tapping into the expected tripling of middle class consumers from India, China and other nations in the region. The government is developing a white paper on northern Australia, pledging to turn it into the “next frontier” so that it serves as a food bowl, energy export industry, and lures more tourists. This comes as the resources boom subsides and the government looks to lift engagement with Asia. A think tank headed by Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has argued that the north should be a hub within Asia for not just resources, but also sectors such as agriculture.
Courtesy of The Australian

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