Since my maiden Senate speech back in 1990 I have been constantly at the forefront of debate and advocacy for growth and development in Northern Australia. With a clear policy direction being set by the Government, never before have the circumstances been so opportune to expand and develop Northern Australia.
By just 2020, more than half the world’s middle class will be in Asia and Asian consumers will account for over 40 per cent of global middle class consumption. If Australia is to take advantage of this historic opportunity, then serious efforts to transform the north must be pursued in earnest. This of course will require political will and leadership at a national level.
Great strides forward are already being made in the north in defence and strategic developments, and in world-class educational institutions such as James Cook University, Charles Darwin University and TecNQ. The Australian institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) keep Marine sciences are at the forefront in the north. And the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) is focusing attention on health and well-boing in the north.
Some Northern Australia Statistics:
- Approximately 1 million people in 2006 – almost 5% of Australia’s total population 70.5% live in North Queensland 14.3% Indigenous (compared with 2.3% for the rest of Australia)
- Approx 45% of the Australian continent landmass
- 57.4% grazing natural vegetation 40.2% conservation and natural environment 0.2% agriculture (154.3 million hectares) limited irrigation 0.4%lakes and rivers other 1.8%
- Pilbara (iron ore, oil and gas), Darwin-East Arnhem (uranium), Kimberley (diamonds) Mackay, Bowen and Galilee Basins (coal), Northern Queensland (metal ores), Far Northern Queensland (metal ores) Gladstone (coal and bauxite)
- 30 per cent of Australia’s cattle 80 per cent of live export trade worth $300-400 million annually
- $1.335 billion in exports in 2008-2009.