Government reaffirms ongoing commitment to developing northern Australia

The Morrison-McCormack Government is committed to its long-term vision of developing northern Australia.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt today delivered the Government’s fifth annual Northern Australia Statement in Parliament, promising ongoing support to grow jobs, the economy and population in the north.

Minister Pitt said COVID-19 has made conditions difficult across northern Australia. But the Government remains focused on jobs and growth in traditional sectors such as food and agribusiness, resources, energy, and tourism, and expansion of 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,” Minister Pitt said.

“The north has a vibrant and innovative population with the capacity to create wealth for all Australians.”

Minister Pitt said the government had 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.

The northern agenda has delivered:

  • Over $2.4 billion in investments through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for infrastructure projects across the north, supporting nearly 8000 jobs.
  • 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.
  • The $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund is supporting regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives announced under the Fund are supporting industries including aviation, agriculture, fisheries, tourism and the arts.
  • To spur on the ‘gas led recovery,’ the Budget included $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. Bringing these basins online will speed up the development of our vast gas reserves, increase supply and lower prices.
  • Continued investment in research for agriculture, health service delivery and Traditional Owner-led development through the $75 million Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia.
  • 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.
  • There is more to do to support northern road corridors and progress water infrastructure.
    • Additional road projects will be brought forward within the next 12 months under the Roads of Strategic Importance program, and the Budget included an additional $655 million in road infrastructure across the north.
    • Over $497 million for water infrastructure is providing diversification for industries especially agriculture. The Budget committed a further $3 million for the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority and $5.6 million for the National Water Grid Authority to identify and develop projects for inclusion in the 10-year Australian Investment Schedule.

Minister Pitt said the work couldn’t be done without the commitment of our key partners, including members of the Ministerial Forum on Northern Development, the Advisory Group for Northern Australia, the Indigenous Reference Group, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and the Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia.

Assistant Minister for Northern Australia Michelle Landry said we will build on what has been achieved over the last five years as well as the measures announced in the Budget to implement our JobMaker Plan.

“We have been listening to our stakeholders and considering options that build on our industry strengths and capitalise on opportunities for growth,” Assistant Minister Landry said.

“Continuing this valued engagement with local partners will ensure we maximise our investments.

“This is a resilient region that continues to grow and adapt, building on traditional industries, while being strategically placed at the forefront of contemporary and emerging economies.”

Minister Pitt said the untapped potential, abundant resources and increasingly diverse population makes 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.”

Minister Pitt’s full statement is available on his Ministerial website.

Information about the northern Australia agenda is available on the Developing Northern Australia website.

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