Government Moving to Develop Northern Australia

Media Release

WT084/2014

10 June 2014

The Australian Government's vision for opening northern Australia to development is taking shape with the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia released by Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss in Townsville today.

Mr Truss also announced the members of the Northern Australia Advisory Group.

“The development of northern Australia is a priority for the new Australian Government,” Mr Truss said. “Further growth and investment will, of course, have direct benefits across northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, but that prosperity will spread to all Australians.

“Farmers and business developers in southern parts of the country will be eyeing the opportunities in the north to expand and diversify their interests.

“This has been part of our plan to put regional Australia at the heart of a national economic recovery.”

Mr Truss said the government wants to:

  • Develop a food bowl, including premium produce, which could help to double Australia's agricultural output;
  • Build an energy export industry worth $150 billion to the economy, with a major focus on clean and efficient energy, providing major increases to resource exports; and
  • Grow the tourist economy in northern Australia to 2 million international tourists a year.

“It's a vision that is achievable and embraces the north's strengths and natural advantages in agriculture, cattle production, energy generation, tourism growth and education and health service expansion.

“This was a key election commitment for the Coalition, to allow regional Australia to achieve its full potential through greater investment in infrastructure, jobs and services. It will open the north as a new frontier for Australia—economically and socially.

“The Green Paper reminds us that northern Australia is vital to our national economy, with 55% of exports shipped through northern ports and agricultural production in the north worth over $5 billion.

“The north enjoys geographic advantages from its proximity to burgeoning Asia economies and many natural assets that attract visitors from all over the world. But it is widely accepted that there is more to be done to realise its full economic potential.”

The Government's Green Paper sets out six policy directions to develop northern Australia further, and invites public comment and debate on these by 8 August 2014. The options include:

  • delivering economic infrastructure;
  • improving land use and access;
  • improving water access and management;
  • promoting trade and investment, and strengthening the business environment;
  • fostering education, research and innovation; and
  • enhancing governance.

The Northern Australia Advisory Group will provide expert advice on developing northern Australia to the members of the Strategic Partnership—the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Hon Shane Stone AC QC, will chair the Advisory Group,” Mr Truss said.

“The other Advisory Group members are Mr Wayne Bergmann, Mr Jack Burton, Dr Ken Chapman, Professor Sandra Harding, Ms Noeline Ikin, Mr David Menzel, Mr Nicholas Paspaley AC, Mr Trent Twomey, Mr Ken Warriner AM and Mr Djawa Yunupingu. (Biographies on each member are available at ‘Attachment A’ below).

“All members have a deep understanding of, and commitment to, the prosperity of the north and are well-placed to provide expert advice on its economic development. They represent the diverse community, Indigenous and business interests of northern Australia.

“Their combined knowledge and experiences are necessary to help shape the Australian Government's policy directions to be outlined in a White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, due out later this year.”

For a copy of the Green Paper and to lodge submissions by 8 August 2014, please visit: northernaustralia.infrastructure.gov.au

Attachment A

Advisory Group Members

The Hon Shane Stone AC QC (Chair)

The Hon Shane Stone is a former school teacher, barrister, member of parliament, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and Federal President of the Liberal Party. He is director of public and private companies in Australia and the UK and a member of the Thiess Advisory Board. He was appointed the chairman of Energex Limited power distributor in May 2012. He is Chairman of Mayfair Limited (UK) in Australia and Deputy Chairman of UK listed Impellam plc. In 2006 he was conferred Australia's most senior civilian award the Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia.

Mr Wayne Bergmann

Mr Bergmann is recognised as one of Australia's leading advocates for Indigenous self-determination through economic empowerment and opportunity. A proud Nyikina man, boilermaker-welder and lawyer, Mr Bergmann has served as Executive Director of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre Chief Executive Officer of the Kimberley Land Council and Chief Executive Officer of KRED Enterprises, an Aboriginal charitable business foundation.

Mr Jack Burton

Originating from Morawa in the northern wheat belt of Western Australia, Mr Burton moved to the Kimberley and was involved in a horticulture and pastoral operation south of Broome. Mr Burton is now managing director of Yeeda Pastoral Company which operated these pastoral leases in the Kimberley with over 60,000 head of cattle, plus three pastoral leases in the Goldfields and a farming business at Geraldton.

Dr Ken Chapman

Dr Chapman is a Cairns-based business leader with wide ranging business and community interests throughout North Queensland. He is Executive Director of the Chapman Group which is active in tourism, real estate development, aquaculture and investment, particularly in North Queensland and Far North Queensland.

Professor Sandra Harding

Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University Australia, Professor Harding is responsible for leadership and management of James Cook University, including campuses in Townsville, Cairns and Singapore. She is a leader in the study of the tropics and is spearheading the State of the Tropics Report under James Cook University in collaboration with research institutions from around the world.

Ms Noeline Ikin

Ms Ikin owns and operates a consultancy assisting community groups and enterprises to write submissions and funding applications. She is involved in strategic and land use planning, economic and agricultural development, community engagement and mediation, and conservation management. She has served as the Chief Executive Officer with the Northern Gulf Company Alliance for over a decade, a not-for-profit company that supports regional communities in the north to work more effectively with governments and non-government bodies on land and water issues.

Mr David Menzel

Mr Menzel is the Managing Director of Barradale Farm, a 700 hectare horticulture property in the Ord River Irrigated Area in the Kimberley. Mr Menzel also serves as the Chairman of the Ord Irrigation Cooperative in Kununurra, WA and as a board member of Cambridge Gulf Limited, which owns the Wyndham Fuel Farm and operates the Wyndham Port for the WA government.

Mr Nicholas Paspaley AC

Mr Paspaley joined his family business, the Paspaley Pearling Company, in 1969. He is the current executive chairman of the Paspaley Group of Companies. The company has a diverse portfolio of business operations including interests in commercial, residential and rural property, aviation, ship repairing, engineering, wine and luxury jewellery shops. In recognition of his pioneering contribution to Australia's export industry, Mr Paspaley was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1999.

Mr Trent Twomey

Chair of Advance Cairns, the peak regional advocacy and economic development organisation for tropical north Queensland, Mr Twomey is also the President of the Australian College of Pharmacy. He and his wife are community pharmacists and own and run pharmacies in far north Queensland.

Mr Ken Warriner AM

Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Consolidated Pastoral Company, Mr Warriner oversaw the management of 17 properties across the Top End, comprising 5 million hectares and running close to 300,000 cattle.

Mr Djawa Yunupingu

Deputy Chairman of Gumatj Corporation, Mr Yunupingu is a founding member of the Dhimurru Land Corporation, which is responsible for looking after the land environment of north-east Arnhem Land. Since 2008 Mr Yunupingu has led the work of Marngarr Resource Centre which is a local resource agency that provides training and employment.