North Australia Digest – 23/11/2012

The Australian
Shanghai Zhongfu president Wu Pui Ngai is poised to pour $700 million into Australia’s remote East Kimberley to grow sugar and has hit back at critics worried that he does not have deep-enough pockets.
Mrs Gina Rinehart has launched her new book North Australia and then some, and spoke with passion about developing northern Australia via irrigation: “food is going to be a great need for the world, especially for our more increasingly populous neighbours to our north”.
Australian Financial Review
Mrs Gina Rinehart has called for Australians to get behind the mining industry, arguing the country risks following in the footsteps of indebted euro-zone countries due to high business costs and new taxes and should earn what it spends. “The investment in our mining industry has been very positive for Australia. But we need to be doing more, if we want – as I do – more revenue for our defence, our police, our elderly, our hospitals, roads and infrastructure, and communication, to be able to repay our debts, and enable sustainable job opportunities for existing and future generations…”
Treasurer Wayne Swan is making clear his objections to the states seeking to bolster budgets with higher ­mining royalties, which in net terms can further reduce the federal government’s already disappointing income from the new minerals resource rent tax (MRRT). “Royalties”, according to Swan, are “inefficient; they hurt struggling, low-profit mines because they’re imposed regardless of whether a mine is profitable.”
The Age
Mrs Gina Rinehart has warned that Australia must not continue on a course towards being another Greece, Spain or Portugal. “We don’t want to see Australia continue on a course with too many heads buried in the sand, critical investors discouraged by bad policies, even hated, too few understanding the problems while Australia moves towards being another Greece, Spain or Portugal…”
West Australian
Mrs Gina Rinehart, in launching her new book, has called for innovative policies for Northern Australia, “Our Federal Government keeps increasing our nation’s debts and, sadly, our State governments adding to this burden with far too little thought as to how we first create wealth and revenue so there is something to spend.”
Under a deal with the WA Government, Rio will spend $1.8 billion on an upgrade of its Yandicoogina mine in the East Pilbara. The proposal is set to create hundreds of jobs and Premier Colin Barnett said the investment demonstrated the resilience of WA’s mining industry.
The head of Mermaid Marine Australia has cast doubt on the timing of State Government plans for a marine precinct in Port Hedland, suggesting it might come too late to service the construction boom on oil and gas projects. Although the Government has argued such a facility could also help develop a regional services industry worth up to $250 million a year.
Courier Mail
The Queensland government is assessing $78 billion worth of significant projects with the potential to create 40,000 jobs. Several key schemes, such as the $1.4 billion Ella Bay resort, $1.6 billion Alpha Coal project and the South of Embley bauxite mine, have been approved since the Liberal National Party (LNP) government took office in March.