This Queensland-focused project is part of a broader collaboration between the CRCNA and the Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments to support the development of new agricultural activity across Northern Australia.

The research undertaken as part of this Queensland work was completed by James Cook University (JCU) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on behalf of the CRCNA in close consultation with Queensland Government, industry and the community sector

The report draws on sector research already completed by the the CRCNA which found landholders, agricultural investors and the wider community remain frustrated with the processes for prioritising, planning, assessing and approving new development.

This report explores and defines well-known but complex problems and found the overall system of prioritising, planning, assessing, approving and monitoring compliance in northern Queensland cannot be described as fundamentally broken. The research does, however, find that to achieve investment and sustainable agricultural outcomes, significant effort is needed to address challenges which arise from:

  1. A lack of clearly articulated agricultural development priorities across northern Queensland, including a focus on better use of existing water schemes and the sequencing of new development;
  2. Poor frameworks for integrated, collaborative planning at the catchment or sub-regional scale between governments, the private sector and the community to progress agricultural development;
  3. Fragmented and sometimes conflicting policy and process settings in project assessment and approval that are unable to resolve tensions (and opportunities) concerning development, the environment, and Indigenous interests in northern Queensland landscapes; and
  4. A limited focus on raising the capacity of agricultural development interests to develop and prosecute investment-ready proposals that can easily achieve their regulatory obligations.

This report concludes that with innovative approaches, agricultural, environmental and Indigenous interests in development can be reconciled and sustainable, agricultural development achieved.

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