19 June 2015
Queensland’s outback roads have been singled out for priority development under the Federal Government’s plan to grow northern Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott made the announcement while unveiling the Government’s long-awaited white paper for developing northern Australia, including $1.2 billion in federal funding for everything from roads and water infrastructure to tropical medicine.
About $600 million would be spent on improving roads across the north, with major routes including the Hann and Flinders highways earmarked for works in outback Queensland.
RACQ spokesman Paul Turner said it supported the commitments.
“We’ve been calling for improvements to our northern highways including the Bruce, the Flinders and the Barkly for many years,” Mr Turner said.
“It’s fantastic to see their importance to the nation recognised in the northern development white paper.”
The Federal Government also promised to investigate water usage and infrastructure needs in Queensland.
It will spend up to $200 million to fast-track a feasibility study of the Nullinga Dam near Cairns in the state’s far north.
The potential development of new water infrastructure projects in the Mitchell River catchment in far north Queensland would also be examined.
Mr Abbott also said he wanted to expand the region’s expertise in tropical health and medicine and export the knowledge to the world.
James Cook University vice chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the proposal would deliver tremendous benefits for the nation.
“There is great untapped potential in northern Australia and I believe the white paper is a giant step towards enabling the development of our northern regions,” she said.
“A new idea of Australia is required — that new idea is that the development of the north and the tropics around us holds the key to Australia’s future prosperity.”
The Government will also investigate the feasibility of building a railway line between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek in Northern Territory.
Courtesy of ABC News