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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13154

Northern Australia

Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts. Will the minister inform the House of the outcomes of the recent Northern Australian Ministerial Forum? How are these outcomes delivering on the government's plans for the sustainable development of Northern Australia?

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (15:02): I thank the member for Capricornia for her question. She has been a strong advocate for the significance of the Northern Australian Ministerial Forum, which essentially deals with a coordinated strategy across the whole of the Top End of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

I want to pay tribute to the member for Brand because, in a previous role in this chamber, he was responsible for advocating, through the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce, the establishment of this forum. We held in Kununurra last week the fifth meeting in less than two years of this forum. It had two important things coming from it, apart from the material that it received in relation to beef, where obviously, with the closure of the beef market into Indonesia, there is a realisation that reliance on one market and one country is not the way for the beef industry to go. The diversification that has happened there in terms of logistics, in terms of markets and in terms of abattoir facilities was all reported on and significant progress was made.

Carbon farming was also discussed with regard to opportunities for Indigenous Australians with savanna burning, in terms of not only trading the credits but improving the management of the soils, along with water and land tenure—these were all discussed. What was also significant was the location, Kununurra, which has seen the coming together of a partnership between the federal and state governments, something that was started under the previous Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and Colin Barnett 3½ years ago. This has now come to almost complete fruition, with the expansion of the second stage of the Ord River development, and the opening whilst I was there of new TAFE facilities in both Kununurra and Wyndham, new school facilities, a medical centre, a wharf and jetty at Wyndham and the Mirrawong-Gadgerong's—the Indigenous holders of the land—new building. That new building is significant because they have played a really constructive role in dealing with the land management issues and the discussions around native title. Also present at this meeting was the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. He has understood the importance of the next stage of the Ord development involving water going into the Northern Territory. So not only do we have a partnership between governments; we have cross-border issues being dealt with.

This is an example of a location based approach to regional development—something that we in the Labor Party fundamentally agree with in developing partnerships and working to achieve an outcome for the regions that builds on their fundamental strengths. This is something that we have implemented that those on the other side never had the wit to, and we want the opportunity to keep going with it. (Time expired)