22 May 2014
The Federal Government’s inquiry into the economic future of the northern half of Australia has been touring the region, talking to various groups about the path to a successful tomorrow.
The Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia is spending the week holding public hearings and inspecting previous nation-building efforts across Darwin, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs and Borroloola.
Tourism, pastoral and Indigenous industries have been strongly represented, with the unique needs of the Northern Territory spelled-out by the people cossets to them.
NT Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra Van Holthe has told the ABC he wants to help the inquiry decide that the Territory should be front and centre for northern development.
“[I hope] because of our very important strategic location up here, that we will be considered the place where the Northern Australia development focus will be,” he said.
“We realise up here in the north we are the gateway to Asia strategically.
“We are very important between the southern states and our trading partners in Asia and it’s great to see rubber hitting the road in the form of this committee.”
Dozens attended a community water forum in Katherine last week, where concerns were raised over water allocations by the Northern Territory Government for agricultural and mining firms.
The northern part of the country has its own set of needs, each as pressing as the next, but constantly feels that it is being left out.
In an opinion piece for NT News, one journalist said that from the North the federal government appears full of funding cuts and empty promises.
“The Federal Government has invested much time spruiking the development of northern Australia,” they write.
“Yet on paper, where it really matters, it has invested relatively little.”
“Infrastructure spending in the Territory is forecast at just $600 million over the next seven years – the lowest level in the nation… by comparison the ACT, which would fit nearly 20 times in the Territory’s vast land mass, will receive $700 million.”
As Liberal MP and Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia chair Warren Entsch stridently declared outside hearings on Tuesday: “Why in the hell are we wandering around all over northern Australia … if the Government has already pre-empted what they intend to do?”
Courtesy of Government Career
22 May 2014