New Vision for a competitive North | Former WA Treasurer and Liberal candidate backs Special Economic Zone

Christian Porter, the former West Australian treasurer, yesterday backed Mrs Gina Rinehart’s call for a Special Economic Zone in North Australia. Mr Porter highlighted the success of a zonal tax rebate which encouraged the growth of North West Western Australia’s resources sector in 1945.

Last week, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said a Special Economic Zone is worth exploring, while Resources Minister Martin Ferguson agreed that high costs are hurting the mining boom.

Hotel rooms in North West Western Australia are $159 on average according to a Deloitte Report released late last month. Due to strong demand from the mining sector this nightly rate is similar to the capital cities. The mining sector is also expected to drive demand in Darwin, where occupancy is forecast to rise from 71 per cent to 78 per cent in the next three years.

Many North Australian cattle producers are facing an uncertain future since Indonesia slashed import quotas. The destination for more than 60 per cent of Australia’s live cattle exports, Indonesia has cut import quotas to 283,000 cattle, down from 773,000 in 2009. The move is a result of the Gillard government’s decision to ban live exports last year. In an attempt to rebuild the relationship, newly appointed Northern Territory Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra van Holthe has made a priority visit to Jakarta.

A report this week from Desert Knowledge Australia called for radical changes in the governance of remote Australia. The report calls for more power to be given to remote communities isolated from the decision making process. North Australia Project Director John Shipp welcomed these calls.

The future of the mining boom continues to be a source of much debate. Poor outlook for the resources sector has led to 3500 job cuts over the last six months. Associated industries have not escaped either, 500 West Australian engineering jobs were cut as a result of BHP’s decision to shelve Pilbara expansion projects. Research from Barclays Bank suggests that low iron ore prices could also leave a $3 billion hole in the federal budget.

Developing Northern Australia Summit – Special Offer

ANDEV and the IPA are co-hosting Informa’s inaugural Developing Northern Australia Summit in Cairns on 20 – 21 November 2012.  Voices of the North are entitled to a Special Offer of 15% off the standard and early bird rates.

If you’re not already a Voice of the North, joining is free and very easy – simply follow this link.

ANDEV members and Voices of the North please use the code “ANDEV” when registering, and IPA members please use the code “IPA” to claim your discount.

If you’d like more information on our vision for a new North, please contact John Shipp at or on 0429 706 661.

As always, please feel free to share your vision for a new North by emailing me at