Monday, June 24, 2013

Ministry for Northern Development

The Coalition's 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia was released last week. There is a good deal of cynicism and dissenting opinion around some aspects of this such as scale of the northern food bowl. I haven't looked through the document in detail which seems to contain a good amount of political rhetoric. The actual proposal so far is to produce a white paper on northern development within a year of being elected.

What did draw my attention was commentary on tourism. It is stated that Northern Australia has attracted 1.5 million international visitors in the past year and this could be expanded to 2 million. Given that the timeframe is 2030 this hardly seems a demanding objective at compound growth of 1.7%? Particularly when you consider the UNWTO forecast is for 3.3% pa growth in international tourism up to 2030.

Some historical political perspective to this most recent drive for northern development sounds awefully familiar:

There is little doubt that the Australian people desire a faster rate of development. For many it is an uneasy feeling about an empty and defenceless north … Australia can make a unique contribution in the settling and development of a huge tropical area by an advanced people of European origin.
The increased export earnings which the north can provide are necessary to raise the productive capacity of the south … what happens in the Fitzroy Basin in Central Queensland or on the Fitzroy in the southern Kimberleys is important to the people who live in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
We will establish a Ministry for Northern Development. Mr Chifley regularly conferred with the premiers of Queensland and Western Australia on northern development. Sir Robert Menzies, Mr Holt and Mr Gorton never did. I shall.” - Gough Whitlam

A Ministry of Northern Development was established by Whitlam following the 1972 election and subsequently dismantled during the period of the Fraser Government.




  1. Mark, Interesting indeed! Particularly as tourism targets closer to home are much more optimistic. TTNQ are targeting an almost doubling of expenditure from Intl tourists from $0.8bn in 2010 to $1.4bn in 2015 (or +11.8% pa!), TEQ's targets are similar (11.4% pa for international expenditure growth to 2020). Tourism Australia are slightly less bullish with a target growth for Intl expenditure of 8% pa to 2020; while the Tourism Forecast Committee are reckoning on just 3.8% pa visitor number growth to 2022. Obviously the expenditure figures need to be inflation adjusted but they still represent target real growth rates around 9%. Wonder if a new Coalition Govt will be having a quiet word with TEQ and TA about some revisions to targets?
    The UNWTO, I suggest, would classify Australia as an advanced economy and are therefore looking for intl visitor growth around 2.2% pa to 2030.