28 April 2014
The Federal Government’s northern Australia committee will spend its second day in Cairns today meeting with indigenous groups in its latest stop on a tour which will inform a white paper examining ways to boost agricultural production and tourism, as well as growing urban centres.
During yesterday’s public hearing at the Cairns council chambers, several interest groups put forward their ideas on how to open up economic opportunities north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
Cook Shire Council Mayor Peter Scott called for an overhaul of land tenure as well as rolling out financial incentives to lure businesses and workers to the remote region.
He said carrying out business in his shire, which takes in 80 per cent of Cape York, was more expensive due to inflated transport and shipping costs, difficulties attracting skilled workers and increased pressure competing with online businesses.
“Tax offsets and financial incentives are a much-needed and critical tool to encourage investors, entrepreneurs and new residents to support our region and add to our local economy,” he said.
Cr Scott also called for more investment to help the local authorities get on the front foot for biosecurity issues.
“Cape York is not equipped to stop a potential epidemic,” Cr Scott said.
In another submission to the joint parliamentary committee, Ports North boss Brett Moller called for governments to fund new transport routes linking mining and agriculture centres to regional ports of Cairns, Karumba and Mourilyan.
Mr Moller also called for a funding commitment to upgrade “critical marine infrastructure” in the Port of Cairns to open up trade opportunities with Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who chairs the committee, said all the issues would be considered on their merits.
“We look at commonalities through them all and find local examples of what can be achieved by making a change,” he said.
Mr Entsch said a scoping study on the water and power needs of northern Australia was among the ideas raised yesterday which would most likely form one of the final recommendations for the white paper. The committee will travel to the Torres Strait for a public hearing tomorrow.
Courtesy of the Cairns Post