Regional development

Industry needs to lead Northern Australia development

Industry in Northern Australia must lead development in the region, Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon. Matt Canavan has told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

“It has to be developed by businesses and the industries and the universities that are there in the north,” he said.

“They’re the people that are going to employ the vast number of northern Australians, they’re the people that can provide the leadership to do that.”

“What we can do as a government is provide the basic services that unlock that potential that bring that cost down.”

On expanding agricultural opportunities in the region, Mr Canavan said native title arrangements must be considered.

“We have a longer term agenda on Indigenous rights and issues as well to unlock native title,” he said. 

“There are so many areas where we want to grow agriculture and crops and one of the biggest barriers to unlocking the potential of that native title area.” 

“We are committed to trying to finalise native title arrangements over the next decade in Northern Australia.”

Discussing energy, Mr Canavan said the Queensland State Government will not be able to meet its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2020.

“This is certifiably mad, it is not going to happen, it will not happen, we cannot produce that amount of renewable in that short space of time,” he said.

“To keep the lights on, we need coal.” 

“I think here in Queensland this industry is very important to us.”

Following the state wide blackout in South Australia, Mr Canavan said Queensland should look to Asia for energy examples.

“I don’t think we should be taking our ques from South Australia which is struggling to maintain its industrial capacity and its manufacturing jobs,” he said.

“I think we should be taking our ques from the north, from our Asian partners.”

Mr Canavan said countries in Asia are using both renewable sources and coal for new energy developments.

On the future of Australia more broadly, Mr Canavan said the population concentration is a problem.

“I firmly believe this is going to be greatly costly for this country,” he said.

“If we continue to stack people up in major cities, it becomes costly to provide infrastructure, we have challenges in public transport…housing affordability.” 

“We need as a country to develop other corners of our country.”

“We’ve got huge opportunities in the north to do that and deliver a legacy for our children and grandchildren which will be in the form of bigger cities, better living environments for Australians and more wealth and prosperity for us all.”