Senator Alan Eggleston

Speeches

07

As stated in the Liberal Party’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia,
Karratha could become an international gateway for trade and investment by
establishing the region as a key urban zone in the North.

In order to achieve this, I believe we must work now to:

1.Have a key focus on industry including agriculture, mining and secondary
processing, and tourism.

2.Upgrade our major transport arteries

3.Build bilateral relationships with our neighbours – particularly in the Asia
and Indian Ocean regions

4.Increase our defence presence in the North

The future expansion of the Pilbara will be determined by the steps the public and
private sectors take now to guarantee its establishment and prominence in
investment, trade, international relations and focusing its resources on the
creation and development of industry.

The Coalition has already taken the first step in the process by conducting
extensive consultation across the North, including public forums in Western
Australia including Kununurra, Broome and Karratha in July.

This work will culminate in the release of a formal White Paper by the newly
established parliamentary committee for northern development.

Just last week I was confirmed as a member of this Committee which will be chaired
by the Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch.

However the point must be made, that while Northern Australia enjoys a number of
competitive advantages, many are currently underutilised.

Developing the North as a food bowl for Asia

•We in the Coalition believe the greatest untapped opportunity lies in the
development of the north as the food bowl of Asia by developing agriculture
across the North, followed by realising the great potential for developing the
tourist industry in the North.
•Many people aren’t aware that by 2020, more than half the world’s middle class
will live in Asia, and Asian consumers will account for 40 per cent of the
global middle class.
•Asia’s real GDP is also expected to increase from US$27 trillion to US$67
trillion by 2030
•Asia and the ASEAN nations are therefore already the world’s biggest and
fasted growing regional economies, while Indonesia is predicted to be the 8th
largest economy in a decade
•This is why Australia needs to market itself now as the answer to Asia’s
future food needs
•The CSIRO concluded that 5 to 17 million additional hectares across the North
are potentially suitable for agriculture purposes
•Increasing our irrigation water usage from just 6% to 9% would mean that after
meeting our own people’s requirements, we could feed and additional 100 million
people
•The iconic Ord River contains 6x more water than Sydney Harbour –and perhaps
could be piped south to the Fitzroy Valley to develop agriculture on the black
soil plains of the West Kimberley

Moving forward, our focus needs to be on:

Strengthening our bilateral ties in trade, services and education; by:
•Raising the profile of the IOR-ARC
•Marketing ourselves to the IOR-ARC in mining, energy and food, which the North
is ideally placed to service
•Increasing government and business opportunities
•We also need to reassess our vulnerabilities in this same region; defence

Mining,Energy and Manufacturing Industry

•Although we have a huge mining industry, the question must be asked: Why can’t
this be developed into a manufacturing industry as well?
•Sir Charles Court had a vision of a jumbo steel mill in the Pilbara
•Cost of labour, cost of power and the poor industrial relations cited as
reasons for industry not being established
•Today with automation, the workforce required is smaller so costs are down,
industrial relations are much better and with gas, the cost of power is much
less. Given this why can’t Sir Charles’ grand vision be resurrected?
•Some describe Australia as a “third world country in disguise”, because we are
in fact no more than a “quarry and a farm”
•We are losing most of our manufacturing industries, but here in the Pilbara,
there is an opportunity to reverse that perception with locally based secondary
processing

Tourism

•Tourism is one of Australia’s largest Industries contributing $87 billion to
the Australian economy in 2011-12 according to Tourism Research Australia
•Coalition vision is to expand Northern Australia’s tourist economy to 2
million international visitors by 2030
•However the Pilbara tourist industry, for which Karratha could be the hub, is
relatively underdeveloped
•The potential is there for the Pilbara to develop a major tourist industry,
which I suggest should be a major objective so that more of the $87 billion
which the tourist industry generates annually is spent here in the Pilbara

Upgradingmajor transport arteries and infrastructure

•Sustained and significant growth, however cannot be achieved without adequate
underlying infrastructure
•The Coalition White Paper will consider tasking infrastructure Australia with
conducting a comprehensive audit of Northern Australia’s infrastructure
•Will be implemented over 15 years
•Gaps in communication infrastructure and high cost of services in the region
will also be addressed

Defence

•The strategic requirements of the North are another important aspect of the
Coalition’s overall strategy for the region, particularly for Australia’s
defence and border protection
•The Defence Force Posture Review last year recommended and increase in defence
presence in the north West
•As Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References
Committee, I have been active for two years during Senate Estimates in
questioning the ADF about its lack of presence in the region and the need for
increased naval presence
•A Coalition Defence White Paper will consider basing more of our military
forces in Northern and North West Australia, especially resource-rich areas
with little or no current military presence

The future

•Overall, the Coalition sees the North as a land of enormous potential.
•There are great prospects here in Agriculture, Mining, Energy and in Tourism.
•It is vital for Australia to position itself NOW in order to benefit from the
Asian century and indeed it is an opportunity which we cannot afford to miss

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