Abbott launches Coalition's policy on north Aus development
A COALITION green paper aiming to take advantage of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn is largely the same as the federal opposition's earlier policy leaked in February this year.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was in Townsville with Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb to launch the policy document.
He said the policy was not a final document, rather a way of starting the discussion about how best to develop the north.
By 2030, the Coalition would aim to create a northern food bowl, grow the tourism economy to 2 million visitors to the north each year and grow the resource industry to $150 billion.
While the new Vision for Developing Northern Australia had four largely new policy aims, the other eight were markedly similar to the Coalition's policy leaked earlier this year.
Largely a green paper circulated for feedback, the policy will feed into a white paper process should the Coalition win government in September.
It outlined building new dams, relocating Federal Government departments to northern cities such as Townsville and creating new tax zones for businesses operating north of the tropic.
But it also proposed creating a new "high-level" group involving senior ministers from Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and the Federal Government.
It was largely similar to the existing Northern Australia Ministerial Council; it would also include the Prime Minister, as well as a business and community advisory board, instead of the current expert panel.
The Coalition also proposed removing unnecessary bureaucracy and streamlining environmental approvals, as well as facilitating more agriculture and mining in the north.
However, it emphasised such proposals would not be funded by the Federal Government, instead aiming to create policies which encouraged private sector investments in such developments.