Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Shadow Minister for Resources and Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald has urged Northern business leaders to continue being proactive and not leave development and policy ideas up to governments.

Attending the Developing Northern Australia Conference in Darwin this week, Senator McDonald said Members of Parliament and government departments should be more engaged in assessing and executing ideas from the private sector than with dictating policy.

“The Northern Australia White Paper was published in 2015, but we should still have the attitude that development of the North is really only just beginning,” she said.

“This conference brings together some of the North’s brightest minds offering brilliant solutions to long-standing issues.

“Tourism, mining, agriculture, service provision and population growth and retention, have all been addressed – governments at all levels need to listen to the people living and working in the North, not try to implement what works in larger southern centres.”

Private sector investment is growing, however public sector investment is not keeping up, according to the data presented to the conference.

Gas extraction in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin was addressed at the conference, and Senator McDonald said a project there headed by Tamboran Resources would be a game changer for the Australian energy market.

“Due to the Federal Government’s negative messaging about gas and its foolhardy market interventions, Tamboran’s research shows Australia is facing an energy supply cliff in 2025 that will have catastrophic ramifications for cost and supply for businesses and families,” she said.

“The Beetaloo Basin is a truly vast reserve but its most interesting feature is that its gas has lower CO2 than other gas fields, so it can help Australia reach emissions targets.

“The Basin can also provide energy for new rare earths and phosphate mines in the Territory and North West Queensland, so it has a vital role to play in the North’s future.”

The conference was disrupted by anti-gas protesters, including one who gained entry with a forged pass and stormed a stage on Tuesday before being evicted by security.

Senator McDonald urged governments to impose harsher laws for illegal protests and trespassing.