The Federal Government has delivered 85 per cent of the measures outlined in its 20-year Northern Australia White Paper – Our North, Our Future – since its publication in 2015.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, made the comments during his fourth Annual Statement to Parliament on Northern Australia and developments since the White Paper’s release.
“A strong north is crucial to our nation’s future security, identity and prosperity. The north has always been a great place to live and do business, and its contribution to Australia’s prosperity has continued to grow,” Mr Canavan said.
“In a little over four years, we’ve invested in infrastructure, attracted investment, created jobs and ensured the right supports are in place to continue to grow Northern Australia’s economy and communities, including Indigenous communities.”
More than $5 billion of Commonwealth Government funding is creating more jobs, providing better infrastructure and unleashing new enterprise in Northern Australia.
The Government’s $5 billion funding includes the following commitments:
- Almost $3 billion to upgrade critical roads throughout the north
- $1.48 billion in Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) investment decisions
- Around $678 million for water infrastructure projects including feasibility studies and business cases
- $93.5 million for research and development focused on agriculture and water resources through the CRCNA and CSIRO
Minister Canavan said one of the main drivers to opening up opportunities in the north was better transport infrastructure.
“As a government, we have locked in $2.98 billion to make sure our world-class mineral and agricultural products from the north can get to markets more efficiently though the Northern Australia Roads, Beef Roads, Roads of Strategic Importance and Outback Way funding programs,” he said.
Mr Canavan maintains that by collaborating with industry, research organisations, Indigenous businesses and communities, Northern Australia will see thousands of jobs opportunities created
“The $1.5 billion in approved NAIF projects to date will generate around $3 billion in benefits and create more than 4,000 jobs,” he said.
“A great example of how NAIF is backing the enterprise of northern communities is the Indigenous-owned First Iron Project, which will create up to 240 new jobs in the Pilbara region, and the 2,400 jobs created by the road upgrades happening throughout the north.
“We will see more great projects like this roll out in coming months as applicant projects move through the approvals process pipelines.”
Mr Canavan said that water would be key in building wealth in the north, prompting the government’s $700 million for new water infrastructure, feasibility studies and water security projects.
“Farming in the north brings in around $8 billion to our economy and accounts for more than 13 per cent of the nation’s total agricultural output. We can easily build on that productivity through building more reliable water supplies and better roads throughout northern Australia.” Mr Cnavan said.
“Hand in hand with that goes our support for more collaborative research and development work with the industries of the north.
“The Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA) has invested around $9 million in 35 industry-led research projects to expand and diversify the north’s agricultural and industrial activities – exploring the potential of all things great (broadacre cropping) and small (spice crops).
“Just last month we announced the CRCNA’s largest investment to date – $1.2 million to investigate how we can develop the north’s own tropical rock oyster industry.”
Minister Canavan said the resources sector would continue to be the economic powerhouse of Northern Australia under the Liberal Nationals Government.
“Mining, oil and gas continue to deliver huge gains to our economy,” he said.
“Work has started on Queensland’s Adani coal mine, progress is being made in developing the Browse and Scarborough oil fields off the West Australian coast, and the Beetaloo Basin in the NT promises more than 6,500 jobs and around $9 billion for the national economy if it is developed.
“Developing Northern Australia – a large and sparsely populated part of our nation – takes real commitment, patience and vision. Our focus on investing in key infrastructure and attracting even more private investment in projects is a strong platform to develop the north over years to come, to the benefit of all Australians.”