New Vision for a competitive North | North Queensland Special Economic Zone proposed

In a significant step toward unleashing the potential of North Australia, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville yesterday announced moves to establish a Special Economic Zone for North Queensland. ANDEV has been leading the call for a Special Economic Zone in North Australia for a number of years. North Australia Project director John Shipp said the plan is a welcome response to a system of government failing the region and North Australia more broadly. You can see Mr Shipp appearing on ABC News here. Local Government Association of Queensland president Paul Bell said it was an opportunity to build “an economic powerhouse in the north.”

A Coalition government would use unmanned drones to patrol Australia’s North West, under a plan unveiled by Tony Abbott on Tuesday. In a speech to the RSL national conference in Sydney, Mr Abbott outlined an aspirational increase in defence spending which would also see military forces based in resource-rich areas of northern Australia, currently home to little or no military presence. Finance Minister Penny Wong said funding increases needed to be properly costed.

Australian thermal coal projects are 66 per cent more expensive to construct than the global average, according to a report by Port Jackson Partners released last week. The report, commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia, also found iron ore projects were 30 per cent more costly. High wage costs and slowing productivity mean Australia is losing its competitive advantage over emerging miners in Africa, Asia and South America, it warned. The report coincided with the release of a Baker & McKenzie survey that found 75 per cent of global mining executives thought Australia had become a more costly, time consuming and complicated place to invest over the last decade.

Mining companies will be forced to spend money on protecting seagrass thousands of kilometres from port facilities under a plan unveiled by Environment Minister Tony Burke last week.

Extra funding designed to improve living standards in remote indigenous communities is being spent on vast bureaucracies, according to a draft government report obtained by The Australian this week. According to the report, funds are “diverted to build the capital base and operational capacity of non-resident agencies rather than funding and building the skills and capabilities of local Aboriginal people and organisations.” In the wake of the report, the new Northern Territory Minister for Indigenous Advancement, Alison Anderson, accused her federal counterpart Jenny Macklin of being out of touch with issues facing indigenous communities.

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