Media Release – Feeding the Future report a welcome step towards development of the North

The release of the Feeding the Future report by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade late last month marks a welcome change in government attitude toward agricultural development in Northern Australia, according to Dominic Talimanidis, Director of the ANDEV/IPA North Australia Project.

“It is refreshing to finally see a government report highlight the agricultural potential of Northern Australia,” Mr Talimanidis said. “Particularly as previous reports – including the National Food Plan Green Paper – completely dismissed the opportunities for expanding agricultural production in the North.”

The report involved input from private and government sectors in Australia and China and focused on the potential for cooperation between the two countries to lift agricultural productivity.

“North Australia has the potential to become a food bowl meeting booming demand for high quality produce in China and the wider Asia-Pacific region, but more needs to be done to encourage investment and development,” Mr Talimanidis said.

“It is particularly satisfying that the report acknowledges the major burden that regulatory duplications, particularly environmental protection requirements, play in inhibiting investment and development,” said Mr Talimanidis.

Although the report contains many positives, the use of dams to store the huge seasonal rainfall in many areas of the North is again notable by its absence.

“There are areas of North Australia that receive almost double the annual rainfall of the Murray-Darling Basin. If Australia’s agricultural sector is to make the most of these exciting opportunities, we need to overcome this irrational aversion to building dams,” Mr Talimanidis said.

Mr Talimanidis was hopeful the report would act as a catalyst for a change in government policies.

“Current policies lack the vision necessary to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in Asia, both as a destination for exports and as a source of capital,” Mr Talimanidis said.

The Institute of Public Affairs, in conjunction with Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV), is calling for a Northern Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with lower taxes and a reduced regulatory burden. For more information visit:

Media comment: Dominic Talimanidis, Director ‐ North Australia Project, 0412 178 264,