Media release – Foodbowl and SEZs part of Australia’s future in the Asian Century

The Gillard government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, to be released Sunday, must focus on increasing Australia’s competitiveness and encouraging foreign investment if we are to truly benefit from the ‘Asian Century’, according to John Shipp, Director of ANDEV/IPA North Australia Project.

“Asia is the major destination for Australia’s exports – China alone accounts for 30 per cent. However, more must be done if Australia is to benefit from future Asian growth,” Mr Shipp said.

“Asian demand for our resources has been a major driver of Australia’s economic success in recent years, but current government policies are stifling further growth.”

“High taxes, over-regulation and the current state of industrial relations policy are increasingly making Australia uncompetitive,” Mr Shipp said.

Mr Shipp said the White Paper must also address major opportunities for the agriculture sector. According to a 2010 OECD report, by 2020 more than half the world’s middle class will be in Asia and Asian consumers will account for over 40 per cent of global middle class consumption.

“That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and as their quality of life improves Australia’s high quality agricultural products will be in demand. North Australia has the opportunity to become a food bowl meeting growing demand for high quality produce in Asia,” Mr Shipp said.

Mr Shipp said the White Paper offered an opportunity to consider a Special Economic Zone in North Australia.

“Special Economic Zones have been successfully implemented throughout Asia to encourage economic and population growth. North Australia can benefit from a similar policy,” Mr Shipp said.

“In only six years, Malaysia’s flagship SEZ has attracted 3,500 small and medium enterprises from Singapore. An SEZ in North Australian would complement zones like this,” Mr Shipp said.

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

The North Australia Project is a joint project of Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision and the Institute of Public Affairs. For more information visit

Media Comment: John Shipp, Director – North Australia Project, 0429 706 661,