14 August 2014
Issues raised from the floor and pre-submitted via the internet put to the summit panel included the need to improve roads, the potential environmental impact of fracking for gas, growing food in the Territory for Asia, the future increase of the export of live animals, cattle, buffalo and goats, and encouraging intellectual resource development.
CLP Minister Willem Westra van Holthe said he thought of all the regional hubs in the NT, Katherine had the most potential for growth outside Darwin. He said the population could close to triple from the about 10,000 now but it may take 50 years.
“With the development of the oil and gas industry in this region, with pastoral opportunities or the diversification of pastoral land, I think Katherine is going to boom in years to come,” he said.
“I think we have the potential in years to come to be the size of Alice Springs. I think we need to get some of our freight things happening, the Ord (stage three of the river scheme) needs to be developed and then we become even more of a strategic commercial hub than we are now.”
He did concede in the early stages Whyndam in Western Australia near Kununurra would be the export port for produce grown in the next stage of the Ord, which will include NT land, but Darwin was a better option longer term.
“Which will mean the freight will necessarily come through Katherine,” he said.
“We’ve been talking with proponents in Ord stage three and also proponents in Ord stage two, about what sort of infrastructure they can contribute to this process.
“I mean I’m not necessarily talking about government putting its hands in its pocket to build a train line but industry may well do that.”
The centrality of water for agriculture and horticulture growth was raised by the panel as was the waste potential for increase in gas production.
About 55 people at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Cultural Centre heard from the panellists, who included Katherine Mayor Fay Miller, NT Farmers Association chief executive officer Grant Fenton and Santos spokesman Matthew Doman.
TWO more summits are planned in Alice Springs on August 29 and Darwin on September 1. Locations are yet to be finalised.
PEOPLE can submit questions online before the summits by visiting the Developing the North website at www.northernaustralia.nt.gov.au.
Courtesy of NT News