Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, has slammed the Labor Government for abandoning Northern Australia on the first day of Parliament.

Labelling the move as “short-changing Australia’s future”, the Shadow Minister savaged Labor’s axing of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia.

Northern Australia plays a pivotal role in supporting Australia, but Labor has shown its true colours by not supporting the North.

“This region represents half of Australia’s land mass, is home to 1.3 million people – 16 per cent of those being Indigenous – it produces more than 94 per cent of Australia’s bananas, 93 per cent of Australia’s mangoes, 12.5 million beef cattle and makes up 90 per cent of Australia’s live cattle exports, but it is represented by just 6 per cent of resident politicians,” she said.

“It is the frontline for Australia’s defence and biosecurity, and the strength of its vast resources provides well-paid jobs, supports the economy and is the backbone of dozens of small regional towns and thousands of associated businesses.”

The Coalition has always had a strong track record of supporting our regions, including streamlining the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, revamping the Northern Australia Indigenous Reference Group, identifying Corridors of Growth and the Northern Australia Master Plan.

However, under Labor’s neglect the people of Northern Australia will suffer.

Senator McDonald concluded: “I am calling for the re-establishment of the Committee to ensure that the North remains an important productive region of our country.

“The Prime Minister must act to reverse this decision. I will always stand up for Northern Australia, and I call on this government to do the same.”

Senator Matt Canavan said: “The Federal Government has made its intentions clear that Northern Australia will be moved far down the list of priorities and our country will be worse for it.”

Senator Jacinta Price said: “In Northern Australia we have among the most marginalised Indigenous Australians, the pastoral industry, biosecurity threats, we have industries the whole nation depends on, and to think that this government can neglect such an important region is insulting and a betrayal. It is an elitist agenda driven by the cities, and we cannot be neglected like this.”

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said: “Under the Liberal National Coalition, the Northern Australia agenda received the attention it deserved and resulted in improved business confidence, more roads spending, greater collaboration and a unified vision.”

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said: “As former Chair of this committee, I am extremely disappointed that the new Labor Government does not see its importance. Most recently we completed the inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge and in my opinion that was the only committee that could have done that as well as we did.”

Herbert MP Phil Thompson said: “Committees have identified the need for development throughout Northern Australia, and Townsville being the capital of the North has seen growth in infrastructure and capital spend under the Coalition. Abolishing the Northern Australia Committee highlights the new Labor Government cares more about the south.”

Dawson MP Andrew Willcox said: “The people of Northern Australia contribute more than their share to economic growth and they deserve a fairer share of government spending – the committee was a significant step towards ensuring that happens which is why the government must reinstate it.”

Flynn MP Colin Boyce said: “This is an unacceptable decision by the Labor Government considering the North has such untapped potential, abundant resources and an increasingly diverse population.”