18 June 2015
The West Australian
Initially sceptical of federal rhetoric, the Northern Territory’s chief minister says he is now confident the northern Australia white paper has backed up with substance a development plan for the next two decades.
Released on Thursday, the paper includes a commitment from the commonwealth to put $5 million towards a feasibility study into a railway line from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa, to set up in Darwin a one-stop shop to approve northern projects worth more than $50 million, and up to $200 million for a northern water infrastructure fund.
There is also $600 million earmarked to improve roads across the three states, which Chief Minister Adam Giles said would be allocated after he negotiated with the premiers of Western Australia and Queensland.
“What we’ve seen in today’s white paper isn’t rhetoric, it’s about real, tangible investments in northern Australia and particularly in the Northern Territory,” he said.
The NT Cattlemen’s Association has said $1.7 billion is needed to seal cattle roads, compared with the $100 million allocated in the last federal budget.
“We were never going to be able to seal every road in the NT but what we can do is put a sign on the door… that the `NT is open for business’ and attract private investment, Mr Giles told reporters.
The white paper also did away with the idea of a special economic zone for the north, which he said was unsurprising.
“It was almost like the gold pot at the end of the rainbow and something we always wanted to see, but I’ve always taken the philosophical approach that Australians who pay tax, if they want to see their taxes invested properly in the NT they want to see it go to tangible pieces of infrastructure” such as roads and ports, he said.
“I think this is the right mix going ahead.”
Mr Giles said he would push for the territory to house some parts of the $75 million Co-operative Research Centre for the Development of Northern Australia.
He also welcomed the announcement of $110 million to finalise all native title claims within 10 years, and $20.4 million to help native title holders negotiate with businesses.
The Northern Land Council (NLC) said it remains opposed to the espoused model of township leasing.
Courtesy of the West Australian