Media Release

Government looking to future for Northern Australia

11 June 2014

The Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia released yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister along with announcement of members of the Northern Australia Advisory Group represents another important milestone in realising the Coalition’s vision for the nation.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, in welcoming the Green Paper said the Australian Government is committed to exploring all future options for agriculture in northern Australia and fully understanding the huge potential of the region.

"We know there are many opportunities for further development of agriculture in northern Australia, based on fertile zones of undeveloped land, seasonal rainfall patterns and its close proximity to Asia," Minister Joyce said.

"There is an opportunity to position Australia, through northern Australia, to benefit from the continued strong growth forecasted in the Asian market.

"As the Green Paper points out, Darwin is closer to Jakarta than to Sydney, and the closest major city to Darwin is Dili, Timor Leste. What this means is shorter transport times to get our agricultural product to market and we must maximise every advantage we have.

"The paper also highlights the strategic importance of northern Australia in protecting our enviable biosecurity status - we are so lucky Australia is free from many of the exotic pests and diseases which are prevalent in other countries - and we want to stay that way. With rising trade opportunities in the future, our biosecurity services must remain strong and coordinated.

"The Green Paper considers the issue of water and how the lack of reliable access to water can impede economic development. As Chair of the ministerial working group on water infrastructure and dams, I know this is a huge issue for farmers in the north and water infrastructure has to keep pace with economic opportunities across Australia.

"I encourage everyone involved in the agriculture sector in northern Australia - from farmers to transport operators - to take a look at the Green Paper and consider lodging a submission in response. Submissions can be lodged online until 8 August 2014."

The Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia, and information on how to make a submission in response, is available at northernaustralia.dpmc.gov.au.