Article – Own brand to open up north

11 June 2014
Shane Wright and Andrew Tillett
The West Australian
Northern Australia could have its own brand, tax breaks and special employment visas in a plan to develop the region into an economic powerhouse.
A Green Paper on northern development suggests a bigger role for the private sector in delivering a range of infrastructure but plays down calls for new dams.
The Government went to the election promising a northern Australia White Paper that would provide a blueprint to lift the economic performance of the region that sweeps from the Kimberley east to Cairns in Queensland.
While the paper does not set out any recommendations, it canvasses options to be explored.
It includes the creation of a brand that could be used by trade missions to sell the merits of the region.
There has been continuing support for special tax breaks, though there are constitutional issues that could prevent dramatic changes.
The Green Paper suggests tax changes, as part of a national overhaul, could be on the agenda.
“There may be areas where the tax system unnecessarily impedes the development of the north, to the detriment of the broader national interest,” it noted.
Other options canvassed include increasing the region’s population, either through encouraging migration from other parts of the country or special visas to bring in overseas residents.
Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said farmers and business people in the nation’s south would be eyeing the north to diversify their operations.
An advisory group set up to oversee the northern Australia development will be headed by former Liberal Party president and Northern Territory chief minister Shane Stone.
WA is represented on the group by former Kimberley Land Council chief executive Wayne Bergmann and Yeeda Pastoral Company managing director Jack Burton.
Shadow parliamentary secretary for WA Alannah MacTiernan said setting up special economic zones would be difficult, though Labor was open to improving zonal tax rebates to lure workers.
Courtesy of the West Australian

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