The development of a Northern Australia economic policy will soon come to fruition with the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory agreeing to jointly develop a Northern Australia White Paper.
The White Paper could have long-term consequences for the resources sector with the majority of Australia’s biggest mining projects located above the Tropic of Capricorn.
Public consultations will begin next month with the final White Paper expected to be presented to Parliament within 12 months.
In a joint statement the Premiers and Chief Minister said, “The north has some natural advantages relating to mining, energy, agriculture and tourism. It also has geographic advantages from its proximity to the fast-growing Asian and Tropical regions, presenting opportunities in services such as education and health. The north also has strategic importance, with defence having an important role in the security and development of northern Australia.”
“However, it faces significant economic, environmental and social challenges, including a sparse population; infrastructure, transport and service delivery costs; competition for skilled labour; harsh and extreme weather; and possible constraints around water resource development.”
The White Paper will “provide pathways to harness opportunities which capitalise on the region’s strengths, including ways to advance trade, cultural and investment links with the Asia Pacific region, and to provide the best regulatory and economic environment for business.”
“It will also identify the critical infrastructure needed to support the long-term growth of the region, ways to incentivise public and private planning and investment while tackling impediments to growth.”
Northern Australia is broadly defined as the parts of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, spanning Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory; an area of approximately three million square kilometres with a population of around one million people.
According to the three state governments, the White Paper will:
- produce a stocktake of Northern Australia’s natural, geographic and strategic assets, and the potential for further development of the region’s minerals, energy, agricultural, tourism, defence and other industries, as well as a comprehensive assessment of risks and impediments to growth;
- set out agreed policy actions to: harness opportunities which capitalise on the region’s strengths, including ways to advance trade, cultural and investment links with the Asia Pacific region and provide a regulatory and economic environment that is conducive to business investment, competitiveness and competition.
- manage impediments to growth, including from regulatory frameworks, land access arrangements, environmental constraints, the lack of coordinated planning, participation of Indigenous people in the economy and access to markets, skills and services, and
- create the right conditions for private sector investment, innovation, enterprise growth and business formation (including in and for Indigenous communities);
- identify the critical economic and social infrastructure needed to support the long-term growth of the region, and ways to incentivise public and private planning and investment in such infrastructure; and
- include consideration of the policy options identified in the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia.
More information can be found at the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia website.