Article – Ord study to guide investment

18 June 2015
Andrew Probyn
The West Australian

A detailed study of Ord Irrigation Project Stage 3 and an assessment of water resources in the West Kimberley are central features of the Federal Government’s multi-billion dollar development blueprint for northern Australia.

The Northern Australia White Paper, to be released today, aims to unlock the region’s economic potential through infrastructure investment and streamlining investment and native title processes.

As foreshadowed in last month’s Budget, the Government will establish the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility that will provide concessional loans for major infrastructure projects.

But there will also be crossover investment between the Northern Australia and Agriculture white papers.

Key roads in WA’s north, including the so-called “beef roads” network which crosses some of the most remote areas, such as Tanami Track and Outback Way, will be eligible for upgrades under a $700 million package. Rail freight lines and airstrips in remote WA are also in line for Federal upgrades.

A $200 million water infrastructure and development fund will have three priorities: a detailed analysis of land-use suitability for Ord Stage 3, a feasibility analysis for the Nullinga Dam near Cairns, and water resource assessments in West Kimberley, Queensland’s Mitchell River and the Darwin region.

Tony Abbott, who will unveil the White Paper with Trade Minister Andrew Robb today, will also promise to better support native title bodies to improve negotiations with investors and businesses.

“Northern Australia can grasp its full potential and become an economic powerhouse within our great country,” the Prime Minister said.

The Commonwealth will host a Northern Investment Forum in Darwin later this year.

Potential: The Ord River irrigation project. Picture: Brad Durack

Courtesy of the West Australian

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