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Publication Date: 
October 2018

Northern Australia is becoming an economic powerhouse, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians. The Our North, Our Future video on northern Australia showcases the progress occurring across the north, told by the people who live, work and do business in this thriving region.

The Australian Government’s 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia sets out a long-term vision and framework for a 20-year nation-building agenda. It focusses on tapping into the north’s potential, abundant resources and highly-skilled people.

This video is produced by the Office of Northern Australia. It shows how the northern development agenda is creating an environment where entrepreneurs, small businesses and industries can thrive.

An abridged version of the Our North Our Future video is also available.



Voice over: Northern Australia is a great  place to live and do business. It’s becoming a powerhouse, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians.

We’re creating an environment in the north where entrepreneurs, small businesses and a range of diverse industries such as agriculture, tourism and resources can thrive.

Nicole Roocke of the Northern Australia Advisory Council: I think that community spirit is what will make northern Australia a really vibrant and important place going into the future.

Trade and investment gateway

Voice over: 400 million people live fewer than five hours north of Australia’s northern cities, and the region generates just over 50 per cent of our exports.

The government’s northern Australia agenda is about growing physical, institutional and personal links in and across the region, so that goods, services and people can move with ease across borders for mutual benefit.


Voice over: Northern Australia attracts millions of tourists from across Australia and the world.

In 2016-17, the northern tourist dollar was worth $13.8 billion. Employing over 56 000 people, the tourism industry also makes a significant contribution to the employment and economy of the north.

Ted Hall, Owner and General Manager of Luridgii Eco Cultural Tours: Take a look at the country man—this is what I’m promoting. I mean we live in paradise up here. Nobody knows about this, but this is where it is.

Diverse economy

Voice over: Northern Australia hosts a unique natural environment and across its 183 million hectares of agricultural activity, it’s a flourishing source of agricultural wealth.

Home to 12 million cattle and 3000 sugar cane farms, northern Australia is the world’s fifth largest beef and sugar exporter. Combined income from these two industries alone exceeds $3 billion each year.

Greg Owens, CEO of NT Farmers: The NT has a marvellous array of variety so we do a lot of the tropical fruits in the summer, so mangos by far are our speciality.

There has been quite a remarkable growth in our sector over the last 35 years. In the mid-80s our horticultural sector was worth almost nothing and now we’re worth approximately a quarter of a billion dollars worth of horticultural and agricultural produce out of the Northern Territory.

Voice over: We’re looking beneath the surface as well. A $100 million dollar Geoscience Australia program—Exploring for the Future—will gather new data and information about potential mineral, energy and groundwater resources.

Indigneous entrepreneurs and business

Voice over: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians bring important assets to our shared economic growth agenda—such as significant land holdings, contemporary and traditional knowledge and skills, unique tourism products and offerings, and drive and determination to strengthen culture and secure intergenerational prosperity.

Vonda Malone of the Indigenous Reference Group: We need to be able to work with, in partnership, so that we provide those small economies, supporting industries that will be conducive to working with indigenous people and to growing strong vibrant healthy communities.


Voice over: Improving infrastructure, such as roads, airfields, rail and water facilities will underpin the north’s economic growth.

The Australian Government is investing $700 million through the Northern Australia Roads and Beef Roads Programs to deliver fit-for-purpose infrastructure connecting communities to services and businesses to markets and export facilities.

A new initiative, Roads of Strategic Importance, invests an additional $1.5 billion directly into northern Australia.

Tom Gilmore, Mayor of Mareeba Shire Council: The Hann Highway is a fundamental part of the infrastructure of northern Australia.

It will make an enormous difference to the lives of not only the people who live beside it, but the cattle industry, the fruit and vegetable industry, the hay industry, agriculture in general, the minerals industry.

Voice over: The Australian Government has provided $5 billion over five years through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, to encourage and complement private sector investment in infrastructure that drives economic and population growth in the north.

Eligible projects include investment in ports, airports, railways and roads, communication, energy, pipeline and water networks, multi-user supply chain infrastructure and training facilities.

City Deals are helping to build productive, accessible and liveable cities that encourage innovation and create opportunities. Townsville’s City Deal is already creating jobs, attracting investment, growing the local economy, and revitalising urban spaces, and a City Deal for Darwin is underway.

Les Walker, Deputy Mayor of Townsville City Council: The city deal’s very important here when it comes to the new stadium, the home of the North Queensland Cowboys, and we’re going to have many other events there as well.

Water infrastructure

Voice over: While the north receives more than 60 per cent of the nation’s rainfall, it’s highly seasonal and there are many challenges in making sure it’s captured and used productively.

The government has available comprehensive scientific information available to help public funders and private investors to make decisions about water infrastructure developments across the north.

Dr Chris Chilcott, Research Leader for Northern Australia at CSIRO: The North Australian Water Resource Assessment is a study looking at where the land and water comes together.

In a catchment like Darwin, we’d be able to find that there’s plenty of soil and if you were to put a dam in the Adelaide River, you’d have sufficient water to then irrigate about 6 to 9,000 hectares of rice below the catchment.


Voice over: Biosecurity threats to northern Australia include tropical pests and diseases travelling through remote areas including a sparsely populated 10 000 km northern coastline.

The Australian Government has invested $200 million in biosecurity across Australia to protect our agricultural sector and the health of our population.

Research and innovation

Voice over: Globally recognised tropical disease research hubs at James Cook and Charles Darwin Universities are already leaders in this field.

Dr Teresa Wozniak, HOT NORTH Research Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research: Superbugs, or drug-resistant infections are infections, I work on bacteria that no longer respond to treatment. What excites me is that I’m given the opportunity to solve a very complex problem with quite a simple solution. It’s a matter of providing coordination and cross-jurisdictional surveillance of these infections.

Voice over: To help northern businesses generate new ideas and innovation that leverages the north’s strengths and address challenges, the government has invested $75 million to establish the new Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia.

The Cooperative Research Centre brokers collaboration between industry and researchers to grow the north’s economy and trade and to attract investment. It supports industry-led projects where the north has particular strengths, including agriculture, food, tropical health service delivery and Traditional Owner-led business development.

Sally Leigo, Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia: A critical part for us within the CRC is getting a situational analysis on each of the nine sectors that we’ve identified across northern Australia, whether it’s beef, horticulture, forestry, aquaculture, tropical health. These sectors, we want to go in and understand what are the strengths of those sectors at the moment, what are their weaknesses, where are the opportunities into the future, and where might some of the threats come from?


Voice over: The Office of Northern Australia is actively leading the implementation of the northern agenda, in close collaboration across governments, industry, universities and the community at all levels.


Jane McNamara of the Northern Australia Advisory Council: I’m really excited about the opportunities that we have here and the markets we have here. Whether it’s resources, whether it’s sheep and cattle—which I’m from, whether it’s solar energy, you know, irrigation.

It’s just amazing what we could do here because we have so much land, we have so much sunlight, we have so much water in this part of the world. You just need to be able to think big, don’t listen to the naysayers, and just get on and do the job.

Voice over: Investments and projects are already making a difference to lives and businesses in the north—which is good news for all of us—because a stronger north means a stronger Australia.

Find out how the Australian, Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments are helping to grow a stronger north.

Read more

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