The vast potential of northern Australia is being held back by serious bottlenecks in infrastructure and human capital, but strategies for sustainable economic and population growth need to shift beyond the simple solutions and polarised debate of the past 50 years.
This is one of the key findings of this paper released by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), examining the unique challenges and opportunities within northern Australia’s diverse regions.
Using data derived through [In]Sight, the RAI’s regional competitiveness index, ‘Rethinking the future of northern Australia’s regions: more than mines, dams and development dreams’ seeks to enhance the debate on the Coalition’s commitment to developing a white paper earlier this year.
“Northern Australia has too often been the recipient of one-off strategies that may be positive in isolation, but add up to little long-term change,” CEO of the RAI, Su McCluskey said. “This will be a core challenge for the Government, which has the opportunity to revolutionise the north and the role it plays in Australia’s future.”
“The data and input we’ve collected from communities in northern Australia indicates the need for a sophisticated, regionally-responsive approach to development, one that recognises the diverse challenges and opportunities within each of northern Australia’s regions and how this ties together as a whole.”
The paper identifies three types of regions in northern Australia – northern cities, industry hubs and the very remote – each of which is underpinned by a distinct economic profile, and will require specific strategies to improving infrastructure and building a healthy, skilled workforce.