Northern Australia

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
Land use
  • 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)
Northern Beef
  • 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.

Water in Northern Australia

  • More than 60 per cent of Australia’s total annual rainfall falls across Northern Australia.
  • The major water user in Northern Australia is agriculture, with artesian water an important source for irrigation and other agricultural use.
Ord River
  • 14,000ha surface water irrigation currently
  • Net income of $60 million
  • Potential for another 70,000 ha irrigation
  • WA Government on 11 October 2008 committed $200 million over 4 years to double the existing Irrigation Area to some 30,000 ha
Katherine Douglas Daly
  • 2,200 ha irrigated areas
  • Net income of $92 million
Burdekin Dam
  • 80,000 ha under cultivation
  • Net income of $450 million
  • Potential for a further 142,000 ha
Mount Beckford Dam and Irrigation Project – Hughenden (PROPOSED)
  • Yield 66,000 ML water to irrigate an area of some 91 km2 (approx 0.0008% of the Flinders basin area)
  • Takes 21,000(?) ML annually (1.7%) of the Flinders River’s annual mean flow of 132,000 ML
  • Surface area of proposed dam is18.5km2 with storage capacity of 110,000ML
  • Estimated cost: $68 million