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Northern Australia – the future food bowl: work on to identify eight to 12 small-scale sustainable precincts to potentially open up to 10,000 to 20,000 hectares across the north outside the Ord

Posted by gasweek on 3 October, 2007

With the non-occurrence of La Nina and the related worsening drought situation across most of Australia, it was high time to focus on the possibilities of Northern Australia and the region west of Ord river with relatively abundant water and the added benefits the north presented in reducing greenhouse gases, as the potential food bowl of the nation, said Senator Alan Eggleston, Senator for Western Australia, member of the Government’s Backbench Policy Committee on Health and Ageing, Liberal Party of Australia, in the Commonwealth Senate on 18 September 2007, quoting Mark Lewis of the Western Australia Department of Agriculture, who is the manager of NRM and industry development for rangelands.

Tap region’s immense possibilities: According to Eggleston it was time to define strategies for the sustainable development of the west Kimberley and eastern Pilbara with many opportunities and obvious synergies between agriculture and mining to create sustainable communities in the future.

Time to get smaller projects underway: While long-term plans were being developed for issues like Ord stage 2 and broader Indigenous engagement, it was time to act in the short term and get some other projects under way.

Work underway to identify small scale sustainable precincts: Eggleston said quoting Lewis that governments should be urged not to stop development while longer term plans were put in place. Work was being done to identify eight to 12 small-scale sustainable precincts. These precincts should be the subject of further investigation that could potentially open up to 10,000 to 20,000 hectares across the north outside the Ord.

Tackling high upfront costs: One of the big issues in northern development was headworks. There was a need to create incentives to ameliorate the initial high up-front capital cost with bore fields, power and roads through regionally based headwork schemes. Paying off the cost of headworks over a long period, as already was the case in the Northern Territory, was also another way of substantially ameliorating their cost.

A source of carbon offsets: Agriculture and the mining industry could provide some solutions both in terms of carbon sequestration and offsets through the use of biofuels, particularly biodiesels.

Reference: Alan Eggleston, Senator for Western Australia, member of the Government’s Backbench Policy Committee on Health and Ageing, Liberal Party of Australia, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 18/9/2007, p. 83-84

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