Letter to the editor – Northern foodbowl a fertile possibility – Australian Financial Review

Gavin McFadzean’s position opposing a northern food bowl in “Australia’s north no food bowl” (AFR, June 5) is completely misconceived.

He cites poor soils as a reason northern Australia won’t become a foodbowl. But like the hill country of central Texas, the construction of dams in northern
Australia could play a part in improving soil fertility by mitigating the floods that remove the region’s topsoils.

Mr McFadzean also cites a lack of infrastructure as an obstacle to a northern food bowl, despite acknowledging elsewhere that skyrocketing demand for food and fibres will drive private investment, particularly from countries facing food stress, such as China.

More generally, McFadzean’s argument against a northern food bowl would have more credibility if the Wilderness Society had not been the main antagonist against the building of dams anywhere in Australia at least since the early 1980s.

The idea that little can be done in northern Australia, an area almost half the size of Europe and receiving 50 per cent of Australia’s annual rainfall, simply defies common sense.

China is interested in becoming a partner to develop northern Australia as a food bowl. Why not take advantage of this unique opportunity to provide more jobs, wealth and economic diversity to Australia’s underdeveloped north?

John Shipp
Institute of Public Affairs
Melbourne, Vic