Joint Media Statement:
Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
The Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Hon Michael Gunner, Northern Territory Chief Minister
The Hon Mark McGowan, Western Australia Premier and Minister for Public Sector Management, State Development, Jobs and Trade and Federal-State Relations
Northern Australia will be given an even stronger voice with agreement from the Commonwealth and leaders of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia to establish a special Ministerial Forum on Northern Development.
The Australian Government and Leaders from the Northern jurisdictions reaffirmed their commitment to the Northern Australia agenda, at the 5th meeting of the Northern Australia Strategic Partnership, held in Hobart ahead of the COAG leaders’ meeting.
The Ministerial Forum on Northern Development will consider the priorities and issues identified by the Strategic Partnership and further drive the northern development agenda.
The first meeting will be held in Darwin later this year. The Forum will meet regularly to expedite implementation of projects and programmes in the north and identify new challenges and priorities in each jurisdiction.
The new Forum will be made up of ministers with responsibility for northern development, including the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia (Chair); the Minister for Regional Development, Western Australia; the Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland; and the Northern Territory Chief Minister.
The Forum will also consider how to best engage key areas of defence, agriculture, infrastructure, regional development, Indigenous development, trade and investment so as to drive the coordinated focus on our north.
Given the significant land holdings of Indigenous people in Northern Australia, the first meeting of the Forum will also bring together Ministers with responsibility for Indigenous affairs and senior Indigenous representatives from northern Australia.
This will provide an opportunity to discuss Indigenous engagement and economic opportunities arising from the northern development agenda, and how these issues can best be taken forward.
The Northern Australia Strategic Partnership was attended by The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, the Deputy Prime Minister; Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia; the Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk MLA, Premier, Queensland; the Hon Mark McGowan MLA, Premier, Western Australia; and the Hon Michael Gunner MLA, Chief Minister, Northern Territory.
Leaders noted that strong progress has been made in implementing the White Paper for Developing Northern Australia, with 27 of 51 measures delivered or finalised. In particular, leaders noted the establishment of the Co-operative Research Centre on Developing Northern Australia, the establishment of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and that delivery is well advanced for over $700 million on northern road projects right across the north.
Delivery is also well advanced for the $2.5 billion commitment to fast track, co-fund and build the water infrastructure of the future through the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.
In addition to progress on the White Paper, Strategic Partnership leaders noted continued commitment to the economic development of northern Australia across all levels of government through initiatives such as the Townsville City and Darwin City Deal, the Outback Way upgrade, the commitment to establish new Defence facilities in northern Australia, and the Exploring for the Future programme designed to boost Australia’s attractiveness as a destination for investment in resource exploration.
The Strategic Partnership agreed that Northern Australia is central to the long term prosperity and security of the nation and a sustained, long term focus by governments is required to provide certainty for future investment and growth.