The north has untapped promise, abundant resources and talented people. It is also Australia’s closest connection with our key trading markets and the global scale changes occurring in Asia.
A strong north means a strong nation. Even though over one million people live in the north — all of the Northern Territory and those parts of Western Australia and Queensland above the Tropic of Capricorn — it accounts for over half of our sea exports (Ports Australia, 2014). Thriving and diverse exports in minerals, energy, agriculture and tourism underpin our national income. The earnings from the Pilbara alone are larger than the individual economies of 119 countries but are generated by only 60,000 people (Pilbara Development Commission, 2013).
Many previous efforts to develop the north have floundered through a lack of foresight and the absence of markets in our region for high value goods and services. Through this, the first ever White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the Commonwealth Government is putting in place the right policies, at the right time, to unlock the north’s vast potential. This white paper has been developed to stand the test of time — it should be the first, and last, white paper for the north.