The Federal government says it is committed to its long-term vision of developing northern Australia, with the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, yesterday promising ongoing support to grow jobs, the economy and the population in the region.
He was speaking during the fifth annual Northern Australia Statement, which he delivered to Parliament in Canberra.
Pitt said COVID-19 had made conditions difficult across northern Australia. However, the government remained focused on jobs and growth in traditional sectors such as food and agribusiness, resources, energy and tourism.
New and emerging industries
In addition, there was a strategy to expand new and emerging industries such as manufacturing, critical minerals and value-added processing.
“The potential of northern Australia is as vast as the north itself,” Pitt said. “The north has a vibrant and innovative population with the capacity to create wealth for all Australians.”
According to the Minister, the government has implemented 45 of the 51 inception measures from the 20-year vision outlined in the Our North Our Future White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
Reforms made to the NAIF
Among these is more than $2.4-billion in investments through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for infrastructure projects across the north, supporting nearly 8,000 jobs.
There has also been an announcement of significant reforms to the NAIF, extending it for an extra five years, cutting red tape to speed up investment approvals, expanding eligibility and creating more flexibility with a greater appetite for risk. This will accelerate investment of projects into 2021.
To spur on the ‘gas led recovery’ post-Covid, the current Budget includes $28.3-million to develop five Strategic Basins – including the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and the North Bowen and Galilee Basins in North Queensland.
Upgrading of supply chains
Bringing these basins online will speed up the development of the country’s vast gas reserves, increase supply and lower prices.
“The Northern Australia and Beef Roads Programs are upgrading vital supply chains with 23 projects complete, a further 12 projects underway and the final three to start shortly,” Pitt stated.
He added that the untapped potential, abundant resources and increasingly diverse population made this a critical nation-building economic development agenda.
“As always, there is more to do, but the people of northern Australia are up for the challenge.”