Abbott would "like to see Rocky improve" under northern plan

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has singled out Rockhampton as a city with potential and he is determined to see it synonymous with the word dynamic.

He singled out the Beef Capital for mention while announcing the Federal Government's widely-anticipated economic plan aimed at helping regions and industries above the Tropic of Capricorn reach their full potential.

Mr Abbott said he was certain the $1.2 billion funding from the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia white paper would give Rockhampton the economic boost needs.

"I would like to see Rocky improve," he said.

"There is so much potential in Rockhampton."

The $1.2 billion comes on top of $5 billion in concessional loans for major infrastructure in the north.

"If the north goes well, the country goes well," Mr Abbott said.

"We want it to be more dynamic."

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While the three million square kilometre area that is northern Australia has the advantages of agriculture, mining, energy and tourism, the government believes its economic pitfalls lay in its sparse population of only 1.3 million people, along with infrastructure, transport costs; competition for skilled labour, extreme weather; and lack of water.

The government found part of overcoming the issues included infrastructure investment to lower business and household costs and reducing barriers to employing people.

Some funding must include the financial support of the Queensland, Northern Territory and West Australian governments.

The blueprint is set to be rolled out over the next two, five, 10 and 20 years.

ROADS

About $600 million will go towards roads over the next four years, along with the already announced $100 million beef roads fund to help improve cattle supply chains.

JOBS

The paper found workers in northern Australia faced a number of unique challenges in certain industries, such as mining and agriculture.

It stated the workers were required to be onsite in difficult conditions away from their families without typical suburban conveniences such as medical facilities and entertainment and sporting facilities.

The large weight of construction in the northern economy meant many businesses and their workers were vulnerable to "boom and bust" economic conditions.

MINING

Despite that there are 50 proposed mines and mine expansions under consideration in the Bowen and Galilee basin.

In 2014, there were 75 operating coal mines in Queensland and the state exported about $23.6 billion worth of coal, mostly to Asian countries, especially Japan, China and India.

ENVIRONMENT

The government plans to make it easier to use natural assets with the support of indigenous communities and change land-use laws.

It has put forward $200 million to investigate whether any rivers can work as dams, along with other water storage options for the notoriously parched part of the nation.



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