In response to the ABC criticism of our Northern Australia Vision

In response to Gone Troppo: Northern visions just pie in the sky Friday August 16th article on the Northern Australia Development Policy.

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On Friday the ABC reported a response to Northern Australian development plans from the Director of the Australia Institute, Richard Denniss.

I think Mr Denniss, and perhaps the staff writer concerned, has failed to understand the breadth of the Coalitions plan.

The Coalitions 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia details twelve distinct policy directions. A review of Zone Tax Rebates and an investigation of Special Economic Zone status is but one of these proposals.

Mr Denniss is reported to have remarked that northern development is bad policy as it re-directs resources from the south to the north. The Coalitions plan, however, is to create benefit for all Australians, not at the expense of development in southern populations centres.

The Coalitions document specifically speaks about enhancing the national economy through the continued and sustainable development of northern agriculture, mining and resources, tourism and tropical health and medicine (to name a few). The plan launched by Tony Abbott and me in June this year is about opportunity and prosperity for all Australians.

Perhaps Mr Denniss needs to be reminded of the disproportionate contribution northern Australia already makes to the national economy. With only 5 per cent of the population living north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the north produces around 55 per cent of the nations export earnings.

Mr Denniss assertion that the Coalition is engaged in an opportunistic attempt to win northern seats demonstrates his lack of familiarity with the subject matter. The Coalition already holds five of the eight seats in Northern Australia and is on track to win another three. The Coalition has been consulting widely on Northern Australian development for some three years, and I have been advocating Northern Australian development for over twenty. And there is only one reason for this long history of engagement: it is good for the North, and it is good for all Australians.

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