THE Australian Government last week released its White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, 'Our North, Our Future', which outlines a number of actions and initiatives to support investment and growth in the vast northern region of Australia.
The White Paper outlines policy proposals aimed at simplifying land arrangements to facilitate investment, developing water resources and infrastructure across the region and promoting the region as an economic gateway to the whole nation.
It also provides additional funding for new and existing infrastructure, aims to ensure that governance arrangements support ongoing growth and seeks to encourage employment opportunities in the region.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb described the White Paper as a roadmap for achieving the government's vision for the north by 2035.
"We have set out an ambitious long term reform agenda for the north because a strong north means a strong nation," they said.
The White Paper delivers an initial investment of $1.2 billion. This is in addition to the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to provide concessional finance for infrastructure projects in the north.
In terms of infrastructure, the government said it will focus on funding:
- 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 roads package to improve key roads in the north, including consideration of upgrades for the Arnhem, Barkly, Flinders, Great Northern, Savannah and Hann highways, the Outback Way and the Tanami Road;
- A $100 million beef roads fund which will help improve cattle supply chains;
- $39.6 million to upgrade airstrips and subsidise air services in remote Australia; and
- $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.
More information is available from the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia website at <https://northernaustralia.dpmc.gov.au/>.