The Coalition Government is investing more than $6 billion to ensure Northern Australia grows as a trade gateway to the Asia Pacific, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Barnaby Joyce said last night.
Addressing representatives of the Northern Australia Alliance at Parliament House, Minister Joyce said that 31 of 51 measures recommended in its White Paper on Developing Northern Australia had been delivered and the remaining 20 were well underway.
“Northern Australia’s proximity to Asia and our other major trading partners makes it a critical global gateway,” Minister Joyce said.
“Close to 400 million people live within five hours’ flying time, our north offers immense export opportunities, and we are ensuring the north can capitalize on these opportunities to benefit the entire nation.”
Minister Joyce said investment by the Government would include:
· $5 billion in loans through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF);
· $700 million in 38 high-priority road projects across the north;
· $25.5 million in 15 northern water infrastructure feasibility studies through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund;
· $130 million available for half of the proposed Rookwood Weir project on the Fitzroy River in Central Queensland;
· $100.5 million in the Exploring for the Future program collecting geoscience data to help industry explore for new major oil, gas and mineral deposits;
· $12.4 million to almost double the number of Indigenous ranger groups;
· $75 million for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia to fund projects across the north;
· $147 million for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor;
· $100 million to help build a new stadium in Townsville under the “Smart Cities” program;
· $20.3 million to transform northern Australia into a centre of excellence for tropical medicine research through the HOT NORTH project led by the Menzies School of Health Research; and.
· $15 million to upgrade remote northern airstrips.
Minister Joyce said Northern Australia would also see enormous defence-related investment in coming years, including military training infrastructure at Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville Field Training Area in Queensland worth up to $2.25 billion, funded by Singapore, and spending earmarked by the Coalition Government of $20 billion in the Northern Territory and $930 million in Western Australia over 20 years and $8 billion in Queensland over 10 years.
“Building better infrastructure underpins this whole agenda to make living and doing business in the north easier and more productive,” Minister Joyce said.
“The north accounts for more than 54 per cent of Australian exports and covers more than 52 per cent of our landmass. Our northern communities need better roads, rail links and airports so they can stay connected, travel safely, access services and run their businesses, regardless of the season, and that is a focus of our investment,” Minister Joyce said.