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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1762


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (12:21): I rise to address the motion moved by the member for Herbert, for which I thank him. The reason I want to be involved in this is that the electorate of Solomon, and indeed the whole of the Northern Territory, has a lot to offer in terms of effort to unlock the economic potential of Northern Australia. I see the member for Lingiari in here and I am sure he will agree with me.

Before the 2013 election the coalition released a policy entitled The coalition's 2030 vision for developing Northern Australia. We are determined to ensure that the North gets the attention it deserves. We are proposing that by 2030 Northern Australia could drive growth by developing premium food from a food bowl of the North, growing the tourist economy in the north to two million visitors annually, and by building a $150 billion energy export industry with a focus on clean and efficient energy.

In my view, Darwin is the best equipped city in Northern Australia to meet the challenges of the coming century. I know that the member for Herbert will disagree with me, because I am sure he thinks it is Townsville. I know that the member for Lingiari will probably think that it is Alice Springs. Then there are a few in the west, such as the member for Durack. But I am speaking now so I get to say that Darwin is the best place. The reason is that we already have a lot of pieces in place. Darwin has a major airport capable of handling any commercial aircraft, and it is a pivotal location. Within four hours flying time to the south there are six mainland capital cities, 20 major trading ports, 23 international airports and just under 23 million people. However, going the same distance north reaches eight international capital cities, 36 major trading ports, 69 international airports and a potential market of nearly half a billion people. So I think that puts us in good stead.

We also have a deep-water port capable of handling ships up to 80,000 tonnes. Adjacent to that is a major freight hub connecting to rail and road. Darwin and the Top End have a large and highly-skilled workforce, with expertise in agriculture, resources, construction, fisheries and tourism.

As I stand here today, my electorate is already reaping the benefits of our strategic location and our open-for-business mentality. Last week the Prime Minister and I opened the $90 million meat-processing facility just outside Darwin in the member for Lingiari's electorate. This facility will give Australia the ability to tap into South-East Asia's growing demand for beef. It will provide jobs for locals and a means for the Northern Territory Australian beef producers to sell directly to a local supplier, and it is a great example of the sort of value adding that will be great for Australia's economy.

A multibillion-dollar facility is under construction at Blaydon Point to refine gas that will be sold to Japan. Thousands of people are employed directly in the construction, and the flow-on the effects have resulted in a boom for the local economy.

I am proud to stand here today as part of the coalition government which is delivering both infrastructure and the business environment needed to develop the North. The carbon tax was effectively a tax on remoteness and in Northern Australia the energy needed to cool our homes and our offices, the energy needed to travel vast distances and the energy needed to manufacture much-needed goods was taxed unnecessarily. So the people in North Australia are actually delighted that the carbon tax has gone and they are actually delighted that the mining tax has gone.

There are still challenges to be met, and the coalition government is working to meet those. I am determined to work with both my coalition colleagues and my Northern Territory government colleagues to ensure that the Top End and, indeed, all of the Northern Territory, is at the forefront of the dialogue about developing North Australia. As I said, Darwin should be known as the capital of North Australia. I thank the member for Herbert for bringing this motion to the House and giving me the opportunity to talk about how wonderful my electorate it is.