9 May 2015
Steven Scott and Peter Michael
The Courier Mail
The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed the Government had set aside $1.7 billion to fund its long-awaited White Papers on northern Australia and agriculture, with a $100 million roads package the first of the measures to be funded in next week’s Budget.
A second part of the package to be released today will be aimed at boosting tropical medical research, with $15.4 million to trial new drugs. The funding includes $8.5 million to commercialise research into treatments for tropical diseases such as dengue, malaria, Hendra and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Another $6.9 million will be spent on boosting research activities at centres including James Cook University.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who is in charge of developing the northern Australia White Paper, said he wanted to increase medical research to tap into markets in the fast-growing tropics.
“Tropical medicine is one of our national strengths and we are only beginning to grasp the scale of opportunity of this, and there is great untapped potential now and into the future,” he said.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised at the last election to release the White Paper within his first year in power but yesterday said he wanted to get the detail right and that it would be released next month.
“There are a lot of exciting plans in the pipeline,” he said. “This is a document to outline a plan for the north, not just for today or tomorrow, but for decades to come.’’
Mr Abbott yesterday flew into Cairns, which he dubbed the “tourist capital of Australia”, after a visit to the “beef capital” of Rockhampton.
He told how he was “midwife” to yesterday’s launch of the Northern Australia Alliance, which advocates “nation-building projects” such as Nullinga Dam, expanding defence and naval bases, and funding for medical research in Cairns and Darwin.
Mr Abbott promised “insurance justice” for the north, where premiums cost more than five times those of southern regions.
He announced that the Hann Highway – long touted as the missing inland road link between Cairns and Melbourne – would be upgraded as part of the package to improve beef-cattle trucking routes.
Courtesy of The Courier Mail