The White Paper on Developing Northern Australia represents a massive opportunity for Queensland communities above the Tropic of Capricorn, Senator Matt Canavan said today.
“The Commonwealth Government has signalled its determination to develop northern Australia and regions should now press their case for infrastructure and other development projects,” he said.
“This is going to create a sort of Brisbane line in reverse. Cities and towns will benefit from being above the Tropic of Capricorn because there are so many opportunities in the north of our nation that can be realised.
“The Government is determined to unlock the potential of this vast region and that’s great news for communities and industries up here,” he said.
“As announced in the 2015-16 Budget, the Commonwealth Government will establish a new Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, with $5 billion in concessional loans available for projects through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
“The Government will look to partner with the private sector and northern jurisdictions to provide concessional loans to finance infrastructure projects in the north. Concessional loans could be provided to a range of projects — such as airports, ports, rail, roads, energy, water and communications infrastructure. Project proposals will be accepted from July 1.”
Senator Canavan said he was particularly pleased to see a strong commitment to roads in the White Paper.
“The Commonwealth Government will commit $600 million over five years for priority road projects in northern Australia. Key roads to be considered under the package include the Hann Highway, Arnhem Highway, Barkly Highway, Flinders Highway, Great Northern Highway, the Outback Way and the Tanami Road.
“I have been pushing for sealing of the Hann Highway, which would slash travelling times for fruit, vegetables and other produce going south from the Atherton Tableland and surrounding regions, and benefit enormously towns along the route. It’s great to see this is one of the priority projects.”
Senator Canavan said other roads identified as priorities by jurisdictions, such as those connecting communities, or regional towns to ports and airports, will also be considered under this roads package. Funded projects are expected to be announced by early next year.
“Overall, the White Paper includes measures to unlock the north’s potential across six key areas: simpler land arrangements to support investment; developing its water resources; growing the north as a business, trade and investment gateway; investing in infrastructure to lower business and household costs; reducing barriers to employing people; and improving governance.
“I look forward to working with individuals, businesses and communities throughout northern Queensland to further develop the region in the line with the strategies identified by the Government in this White Paper.
“Although we lost last night, today’s a great day for Queensland.”