The Federal Government’s Northern Development legislative program could take a hit should a double dissolution election be called on July 2. The Government has pledged $5 Billion for development from the Kimberley region in Western Australia to eastern Cape York Peninsula. The enabling bill to secure this massive project could stall and not be presented at the next Parliamentary sittings.
Agriculture will be the main beneficiary of the long sought after strategy with large-scale irrigated cropping projects to be funded on a 50-50 basis, starting at $50 million.
The CSIRO has been charged with mapping the areas of arable soils across the north, already identifying 16 million hectares, about 5 per cent of the total northern land mass.
The notion of Northern Development and large scale irrigated farmland has been around for decades but its main proponent in more recent years has been Kennedy MP Bob Katter.
He says the Government must get the bill through Parliament before the election, because he did not trust the Labor Party to continue with the scheme should it win on July 2.
Katter urged the Member for Leichardt and chairman of the Joint Select Committee On Northern Australia, Warren Entsch to ensure it is passed through both Houses at the next sitting starting April 18.
“The CSIRO might have found several dam sites on eastern Cape York, but the State Labor Government and their bed-mates the WWF, Wilderness Society and CAFNEC are hell bent on shutting the Peninsula down to prevent any agriculture or other development, thus denying indigenous communities jobs and a future,” Mr Katter pointed out.
“Successive state governments have plastered the entire Cape York Peninsula with environmental overlays covering about 70 per cent of its land mass, stopping any economic development for pastoralists and indigenous communities, so we must get some development on what is left.”
CSIRO researcher Dr Peter Stone has been heading up the North Australia Water Resources Assessment looking for substantial dam sites to irrigate proposed large scale farmland.
Dr Stone told ABC Radio that 16 million hectares of arable soils had been identified as suitable for irrigation and 90 dams sites had been found to provide up to 15,000 gigalitres of stored water.
The north was inundated with an average 2 million gigalitres of rainfall each year, of which 90 per cent evaporates, 10 per cent goes into streams and about 2 per cent enters the groundwater storage, he said.
“The research by CSIRO proves these projects can be taken seriously and I have been pushing for 20 years that northern development has to occur, because for too long southern cities have lived off our coat tails of copper, coal and cattle and its time we put this country back on track,” Mr Katter said.
Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson(above) has been scathing of the State Government over land use on the Peninsula. At a recent Mareeba meeting he stressed the need for more secure land tenure on the Peninsula and likened proposed draconian vegetation management laws to a “re-run of Wild Rivers,” an impost he said he had fought to get rid of for five years.
To date there has only been support from Prime Minister Tony Abbott for allocating China vast areas of Northern Australia, detailed in this 2012 DFAT official report
Joint Ministerial Foreword
It is a pleasure to present this joint study between Australia and China on how to strengthen investment and technological cooperation in agriculture to enhance food security. We—Australia’s Ministers for Trade and Competitiveness and for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and China’s Ministers of Commerce and of Agriculture—began discussing this important global issue last year.
Continuing population growth and limited land and water resources, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region, have made food security a priority for many governments. As the economies in our region grow, and per capita incomes rise, consumers will increasingly demand safe, high-quality, high-protein food.
Australia has earned a global reputation for its expertise in agriculture and the high quality of its produce. It still has large tracts of unused or under-utilised areas in its northern regions. Some of this land could, with investment in new productive capacity and the appropriate application of technologies, produce more food for sale on world markets.
China has its own expertise in agriculture as well as a surplus of investible capital, and has developed great plans for the further development of modern agriculture. After decades of progress and growth, China has developed advanced agricultural technology in areas such as crop breeding; plant disease and insect pest prevention and control technologies; and animal disease prevention and control. Firms also spread these leading technologies internationally, and so make an important contribution to improving food production and enhancing global food security.
In our discussions, we agreed that our two countries could work together to ease growing pressure on global food supplies. In the follow-up, Australia hosted two delegations of Chinese government, business and banking representatives in the agricultural sector. A reciprocal visit to China by Australian business representatives and officials provided further input to the study.
This paper is, first and foremost, about cooperation to raise rural productivity to supply global markets. By bringing land, capital and know-how together our two countries can make a difference. Additionally, both countries hope to develop technological cooperation and investment opportunities to improve the production of agrifood.
At the same time, we recognise that this study makes a limited contribution to the challenge of global food security. But it helps to establish a best-practice approach to Australia–China cooperation on this issue, which could provide a model for improved international cooperation. The principles it identifies are central to long-term success in our bilateral cooperation on agribusiness. Governments need to provide the right policy and regulatory environment so that companies can make sound decisions.
Strengthening agricultural investment and deepening technological cooperation is a focus of international cooperation to address food security, and is also an important measure to promote bilateral cooperation. This is the first time that our two governments have worked together on such a project. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved through cooperation, a model we may wish to emulate in the future. We sincerely thank all those who have contributed to this report.
Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Minister of Commerce
People’s Republic of China
Minister of Agriculture
People’s Republic of China
Under a Liberal Party plan to build 100 dams, much of northern Australia could become a Chinese territory which would control a majority of farm and grazing land across three states.
Chinese interests have expressed interest in constructing more dams, a proposition encouraged by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott when releasing the party’s latest election strategy
The Vision 2030 plan to develop northern Australia is a re-badged proposal trotted out at the last three elections by the Liberal Party.
Last year the West Australian Government granted a Chinese Government-backed company 15,000 hectares of newly developed prime OrdRiver irrigation country which cost $400 million of taxpayers funds to develop.
The company has an option on an adjoining, undeveloped 15,000 hectares, intended to grow more food for China.
These extensive WA land and irrigation assets, combined with the proposal to develop more arable land in the Northern Territory and north west Queensland will allow the Chinese to control a vast expanse of northern Australia.
This land transfer has serious defence implications obviously ignored by the ALP and Liberals.
The Liberal Party and its leader Tony Abbott have encouraged Chinese ownership in Australia claiming overseas ‘investment’ in agriculture is necessary for development.
The recent controversial sale of the countrys largest irrigation farm, Cubby Station located in the far south west of Queensland to a Chinese company sparked grave misgivings among the general public and farmers
So-much-so that Katters Australian Party leader Bob Katter, himself raised in the far north west town of Cloncurry, has prepared legislation to reverse the sale of Cubby Station.
Katter says Australian farming assets should be majority owned by Australians to maintain food sovereignty.
A huge battle over the foreign ownership of land is looming between KAP, the Liberals and the ALP in the upcoming election campaign.