North Australia Digest – 24/10/12

The Australian
Queensland mining companies believe Premier Campbell Newman’s decision to overturn the 23-year ban on uranium mining indicates the industry is ‘becoming normalised’ and opens up huge opportunities for the state’s economy.
Julia Gillard announced yesterday that developing a national soil health strategy would be a top priority for her government. Such a strategy will be vital as farmers are being asked to double food and fibre production by 2050.
Ferngroves Wines director Anthony Wilkes says he has had only positive experiences with foreign investment on his West Australian winery. It has allowed him to buy and plant an additional 100 hectares of vines, new tractors, oak barrels and expand more modern wine-making facilities.
In a separate article, Canada’s Laramide Resources chief executive Marc Henderson said the Queensland government’s decision to lift the ban on uranium mining could see Australia becoming the ‘default natural supplier of choice’ to all Western utilities.
BP Australasia president Paul Waterman criticised government policies that drive up costs for resource companies and affect job creation opportunities, saying ‘Australia is an expensive place to do business and it’s getting more expensive.’
Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says nuclear power is a proven clean energy source that will become cheaper in the future.
Australian Financial Review
The government’s Asian Century white paper, set to be released on Sunday, will focus on strategies aimed at deepening ties with Asia to secure Australia’s long-term economic and security future. It will argue that Australia needs to engage in lower-level areas such as education, the workplace and people-to-people connections, while also being more receptive to foreign investment. Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who helped write the paper, is pushing for foreign investment in northern agriculture.
Julia Gillard told the National Farmers’ Federation congress that the federal government will establish a register for foreign ownership of farmland in order to ease concerns that foreign investors are buying up Australia’s prime agricultural assets.
The Financial Review also reports on the future of uranium mining, with Australian Uranium Association chief executive Michael Angwin saying the mining of the resource could rival Australia’s massive iron and coal industries.
The Age
The Age also reports on the government’s move to establish a register of foreign-owned farms in Australia. The register will provide ‘a more comprehensive picture’ of the nature of foreign investment.
The Courier Mail
With the ban on uranium mining lifted in Queensland yesterday, Senator Barnaby Joyce has put nuclear power back on the agenda, claiming that if we are prepared to export the resource, we should be willing to use it domestically.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says the resources sector has become ‘fat and lazy’ and that Australia should continue expansion and investment in the face of low commodity prices.
Burke Shire Deputy Mayor Paul Poole said lifting the ban on uranium mining would ensure jobs in the state’s remote northwest, particularly as other job opportunities diminish. Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Keith DeLacy said the ban ‘achieved nothing in terms of the environment or security’ and ‘only serve to make us poorer as a state.’ No Link.
The West Australian
South African based Gold Fields announced yesterday that it would cut 170 jobs from mining operations in Western Australia by the end of the year due to rising costs.
The West Australian also covers BP Australasia’s accusations that the Federal Government is failing to address the problem of rising operating costs, making Australia uncompetitive and unconducive to foreign investment.
The Weekly Times
A report by Port Jackson Partners director Angus Taylor showed under the right leadership Australia could more than double agricultural exports by 2050, adding an extra $710 billion to Australia’s exports. Taylor said the industry must capitalise on market opportunities in Asia, which would need large amounts of capital from both domestic and foreign investment.