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Greens urge cautious approach to developing Northern Australia

The Australian Greens said today that we need to take a cautious approach to development in Northern Australia, saying a priority must be placed on protecting the region's people, environment and diverse economy.

Speaking on the release of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia final report, Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs said it was important that mistakes of the past were not repeated.

"The report contains many recommendations, some of which I support more than others, but it is clear that we can't rush into development. A lot of scientific assessment needs to be carried out and careful consideration is needed to ensure we don't repeat the mistakes of the past," said Senator Siewert.

"The Greens are supportive of investments towards necessary infrastructure, safer communities, improved health, education, social services and employment. However, it is important that these investments are carefully assessed to ensure long term sustainability.

"Northern Australia is a thriving region with unique landscapes and ecosystems, is largely owned and managed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and has a diverse economy. Development must be carefully assessed and not adversely impact on the environment. It must also take into account the impact of climate change.

"The Inquiry heard evidence on many ideas for responsible development in Northern Australia, providing an alternative vision for the future of this region. These ideas included development of a conservation economy or a carbon economy, ecotourism, a renewable energy hub, and supporting the existing robust small enterprise economy of horticulture and agriculture industries already prospering in the region.

"Supporting communities across our north is an important job for Government, but it must be done in a responsible manner, not in a way that opens regions up for exploitation and development based on short term economic gains," Senator Siewert concluded.

The Northern Australia report is available at the APH website.


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