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Fourth Annual Statement on Developing Northern Australia

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27 November 2019

Minister Canavan has presented the fourth Annual Statement to Parliament on developing northern Australia. The statement reports on progress and shows how we are advancing the northern Australia agenda.

Four years in and the government has delivered 43 out of the 51 measures under the Our North, Our Future: White Paper. That’s 85% toward full implementation.

Key achievements

A strong north is critical to our nation’s future security, identity and prosperity.

The north has always been a great place to live and do business, and its contribution to Australia’s prosperity is growing.

Since establishing our 20-year plan to unlock the north’s full potential, the region has become more liveable, vibrant and prosperous. We’ve invested in infrastructure, attracted investment, created jobs and ensured the right supports are in place to continue to grow its economy and communities. We also achieved major breakthroughs by partnering with industry, research organisations, Indigenous businesses and communities.


Vital work to improve access, safety and connectivity across the north includes:

  • over $700 million delivered to northern roads projects
  • 37 different projects upgraded 480 kilometres of roads in major transport corridors, creating 2400 jobs
  • $1.7 billion earmarked for the northern component of the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative over the next 10 years
  • $184 million to improve connectivity for rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory

Funding to improve water resources for agriculture and the community includes:

  • almost $700 million committed to water infrastructure, feasibility studies and water security
  • the $100 million National Water Grid Authority to ensure future water security for regions like northern Australia


The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is boosting investment across the north. NAIF’s $5 billion in funding has helped build:

  • airports and high education facilities
  • a marine supply base
  • agriculture and aquaculture projects
  • solar and hydro infrastructure
  • mining facilities

Approved NAIF projects are already estimated to generate $3 billion in public benefit and create more than 4000 jobs in regional areas across the north.

The government has also invested in resources projects to inject billions into the Australian economy. The resources sector remains the economic powerhouse of Northern Australia, generating over half of the north’s economic activity.


The Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia is facilitating research on agriculture, food and aquaculture, health service delivery, and Traditional Owner led developments. The centre has contributed $9 million for 35 northern industry-led research and leveraged co-contributions of $20 million. Projects include:

  • identifying high-priority products to fulfil unmet global demand and create thousands of jobs
  • transforming the native oyster industry into a sustainably farmed and commercially viable sector

The Hot North program, through Menzies School of Health Research, has delivered:

  • over 80 tropical health research projects supporting Indigenous and public health
  • initiatives to tackle malaria, tuberculosis and bacterial infections
    Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future program is also developing tools to help search for mineral, energy, and groundwater resources in the north.

Indigenous development

The Indigenous Reference Group continues to support economic opportunity for Indigenous businesses, communities and individuals.

More jobs are going to Indigenous people, including:

  • 58% of total labour hours on the Bow River Project
  • 20 full-time workers and at least 20% of subcontracted work on the Broome-Cape Leveque Road Project

The Indigenous-owned, NAIF-funded, First Iron Project, will also create up to 240 new jobs in the Pilbara region.

Celebrating the north

Following the statement Minister Canavan and the Northern Australia Alliance co-hosted an event at Parliament House. Stakeholders, industry and community representatives came together with key government decision makers, MPs and Senators from all parties, to foster further interest and cooperation on northern Australian development.

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Email northernaustralia [at]