Milestones and momentum are the hallmark of the Coalition’s action plan for the nation’s north, as outlined in the third Northern Australia Annual Statement presented to Parliament today.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the government was putting into practice its agenda for the north, benchmarking progress against 2015’s Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
“This third annual statement shows how much has been achieved to date. So far, 38 of the 51 measures in the White Paper have been implemented, with the majority of the remaining measures underway,” Minister Canavan said.
“Infrastructure development has been the linchpin of our plan.”
- 32 of the 37 projects planned under the $700 million Northern Australia Roads Program and Northern Beef Roads Program either completed, underway or approved to start soon. These projects are creating up to 2,400 direct jobs for local communities, including significant employment and business opportunities for Indigenous people
- The Outback Way being upgraded as a priority route across the north. The first of five new Queensland upgrades are underway, with further upgrades planned for Northern Territory and Western Australia
- An extra $1.5 billion being invested directly in Northern Australia under the Roads of Strategic Importance program, as announced in the 2018-19 Budget. This investment is making it easier to access domestic and export markets by upgrading key agricultural and mining roads, opening up local supply chains and providing more reliable and safer transport links.
- More than $230 million committed to northern Australia water projects
- Scientific assessments by CSIRO have identified potentially billions of dollars in agricultural opportunities in Queensland’s Mitchell River catchment, Western Australia’s Fitzroy River catchment and the Northern Territory’s Finniss, Adelaide, Mary and Wildman River catchments.
“To date, the substantial wealth generated in Northern Australia has come largely from private investment, with much more needed. Only the Coalition recognises and appreciates the vast opportunities to be found in northern Australia and is prepared to invest in that potential,” Minister Canavan said.
“The support we have been able to provide to a range of projects has helped leverage an increasing amount of private sector investment, including through our targeted Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
“To date NAIF has approved development loans to a broad range of businesses in the marine supply, resources, tourism, aquaculture, air transport, renewable energy and higher education sectors. Its total investment, including conditional approvals, is nearly $1 billion, supporting projects with a total value of up to $2.3 billion.
“The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia is also doing great work. With funding of $75 million over ten years, the CRC is supporting industry-led research cooperation in food and agriculture, health service delivery and Traditional Owner-led business development.
“Importantly, the ongoing development of the north is providing jobs and economic activities for Indigenous Australians, who make up 15 per cent of the population in northern Australia, and more than 25 per cent of the Northern Territory’s population.
“I am very pleased to be working with Indigenous business leaders to help get people into jobs, get the right support for Indigenous entrepreneurs and help Traditional Owners realise the economic potential of their land, sea and cultural assets.
"We are seeing greater cooperation and engagement with the agenda at all levels – government, industry and local communities.
“Since the inaugural Ministerial Forum on Northern Development a year ago, Australian Government ministers responsible for northern development and our counterparts from the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland have been working together. We all want the best for the north.
“There is a great deal left to do, but we have made significant progress and the signs for the future are very positive.”