The premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory are partnering to develop northern Australia.
Plans for the development of northern Australia are advancing as the federal government seeks to take advantage of Asia’s economic boom.
The premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory are partnering to develop and implement a northern Australia white paper within 12 months.
It is the continuation of a pre-election promise made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says the region is rife with untapped potential.
“We want to back (investment) with a strategic vision that will help to make northern Australia one of the great contributors to the extraordinary economic developments we see to our north in China, India and elsewhere,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Darwin on Friday.
He said this could be done if better use was made of people and water resources, “if we get rid of the red tape and green tape which is still holding back development and couple that with appropriate infrastructure”.
The NT is 150 years behind the rest of the country in terms of infrastructure, says Chief Minister Adam Giles, and needs to catch up in order to play its part.
Leaders hope development of the north will capitalise on the agriculture, cattle and energy industries, as well as increasing the tourism, health and international education sectors.
Business, community and indigenous leaders will support the strategic partnership and will meet in the coming months.
Mr Abbott says he hopes to hold a summit with the premiers and Mr Giles in Darwin before May’s budget to launch a green paper.
Mr Giles said earlier in February that he was concerned too much focus was being directed towards Queensland, and that the NT was better placed to lead development of the region.
“Obviously there are plenty of opportunities in Queensland but there are plenty of opportunities here in the Territory, just as there are plenty of opportunities in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of WA,” Mr Abbott said.
The boundaries of the white paper have been extended to include Alice Springs, which had previously been left out, he said.
A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia will hold community consultation in the NT in March, and will report to parliament in July.