It focuses on building priority roads, developing water resources, removing red tape, building a sustainable workforce and ensuring effective governance arrangements.
This White Paper has been developed to stand the test of time — it should be the first, and last, White Paper for the north.
Mr Abbott believes "a strong north means a strong nation," which is why the White Paper delivers an initial investment of A$1.2bn to start work right away – alongside the people who live and do business in the north.
Why look to the North?
Even though over one million people live in the north — all of the Northern Territory and those parts of Western Australia and Queensland above the Tropic of Capricorn — it accounts for over half of our sea exports. Thriving and diverse exports in minerals, energy, agriculture and tourism underpin our national income. The earnings from the Pilbara alone are larger than the individual economies of 119 countries but are generated by only 60,000 people.
Australia’s north is unique in the developed world. Covering 40 per cent of Australia's land mass, it sits at the intersection of the two great regions of global economic and population growth — Asia and the Tropics.
- The booming economies of south east Asia and southern China are within three to five hours flying time from Darwin.
- The Tropics account for 40 per cent of the world’s population today, rising to 50 per cent by 2050
- By 2030 Asia will represent approximately two thirds of the global middle class population and of middle class consumption
- The north operates in similar time zones to the most dynamic economies in Asia — a particular advantage for service industries.
- The region is integrating fast — Australia has recently concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Japan, South Korea and China, and is in ongoing negotiations with India, Indonesia and on regional FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus.
- It is a gateway for our defence and security cooperation into the Indo-Pacific region and supports Australia’s ability to project and sustain forces into the region for surveillance, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Key Pillars of the White Paper
The White Paper includes measures to unlock the north’s potential across six key areas: simpler land arrangements to support investment; developing the north’s 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.
We'll take a further look into the infrastructure measures required to unlock opportunities globally, nationally and especially in the north.
Improved Infrastructure Action Summary
Northern Australia has a significant amount of existing infrastructure, including an extensive road network characterised by long isolated roads and low daily traffic volumes, 25 ports, 20 major airports, five energy networks, three railway systems, and communications infrastructure. It is on this existing base that much of northern Australia’s economic growth and success to date has been built.
But with the transition of the mining boom from construction to production and the considerable budgetary constraints facing governments, ensuring the effective and efficient use of existing infrastructure assets will be increasingly important.
- A $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, providing concessional loans for major infrastructure in the north and supporting projects prioritised on the new infrastructure pipeline
- A new $600 million priority roads package to improve key roads in the north, including consideration of the Great Northern Highway, Arnhem Highway, Flinders Highway, Barkly Highway, Hann Highway, the Outback Way and the Tanami Road
- A $100 million beef roads fund which will help improve cattle supply chains
- Investing $39.6 million to upgrade airstrips and subsidise air services in remote Australia
- Investing $5 million in rail freight analyses — starting with a pre-feasibility analyses of the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek railway and an upgrade of the Townsville to Mount Isa line
- $3.7 million to develop an infrastructure pipeline with the jurisdictions to provide investors information on potential infrastructure needs so more can be built sooner and cheaper
- Infrastructure Australia’s northern Australia infrastructure audit
- Establish a business stakeholder group to develop a plan for improving aviation and surface transport connections in northern Australia
Forced to question its reliance on a mining industry now in decline, the federal government is looking north for growth.
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