The North to be a “Powerhouse” for Australian Economy

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan says Northern Australia is poised to become a “powerhouse” for the national economy.

Welcoming the new $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility announced in the Budget on Tuesday night, Senator Canavan said it could be the starting point to drive development of northern Australia and further expansion of the Australian economy.

“I agree with Treasurer Joe Hockey that the north is an exciting frontier for economic development filled with abundant resources and talented people,” he said. “I believe it’s poised to become a powerhouse for the Australian economy in the decades ahead.”

Rockhampton-based Senator Canavan said he had been calling for action on northern development since entering the Senate last year, especially development of dams, roads and port facilities.

“There’s plenty to do but I particularly want action on Urannah Dam, inland from Mackay and Proserpine, dams on the Fitzroy River system, including the Connors River Dam, and in the Gulf; sealing of the Hann Highway north of Hughenden; expansion of the port of Karumba; and more beef development roads.

“It’s terrific that the Government will provide $101.3 million over four years from 2015‑16 to improve cattle supply chains in the north, with a particular focus on road infrastructure. In the north, the greater the distance the greater the cost, and this investment will help bring down costs.

“This money will improve the productivity and resilience of cattle supply chains in northern Australia, using CSIRO's logistics modelling and input from livestock transport and beef industry experts. There will also be incentives for private sector investment to improve the road network and transport logistics in the area.”

On Tuesday night, the Treasurer announced that, utilising the new $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the Commonwealth Government would partner with the private sector and the governments of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland to provide large concessional loans for the construction of ports, pipelines, electricity and water infrastructure in the north.

“Attracting private investment to develop the north will be crucial but we will also need to provide public infrastructure,” Senator Canavan said. “No farm is an island: they need roads, water infrastructure and ports to connect to the opportunities in Asia.”

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