Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan says the federal government’s plan to transform northern Australia will deliver returns for all Australians.
Senator Canavan presented his first report on progress implementing the white paper on developing northern Australia “Our North, Our Future” to parliament on Tuesday saying the government’s northern development agenda was a nation-building agenda.
“On launching the white paper last year we announced more than $6 billion worth of investment,” Senator Canavan said.
“Over the past year we have begun allocating that to specific projects.”
Those projects include upgrading the Barkly, Flinders and Hann highways in north-west Queensland.
“(These are) key freight routes linking important inland resources and agriculture areas with coastal ports,” Senator Canavan said.
“Sealing the Hann Highway in Queensland (creates) a more reliable inland route from Cairns to Melbourne.”
Senator Canavan also promoted the progressive sealing of the outback way from Boulia to Laverton in WA.
“We do need to begin thinking more 'east-west', not just 'north-south' when we develop our country,” he said. The Minister was also keen to talk up the $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Program and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in Cairns.
“The NAIF will offer up to $5 billion in concessional finance to encourage and complement private sector investment across northern Australia,” he said.
Tourism, the minister said, was another growth area..
“We have established a $13.6 million Northern Australia Tourism Initiative to help small and medium businesses in the tourism sector take their next steps in their business development,” he said.
“We have also announced $100 million for more research into exploration for minerals and resources in northern Australia,” he said.
“This is of special importance given that the economy of northern Australia is more than half made up by our resources sector.”