Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb today announced that the Coalition Government will host a Northern Australia Investment Forum in the second half of next year, bringing together international investors, to promote and secure investment in Northern Australia.

In his keynote address to the Australian Davos Connection Northern Development Summit in Townsville today, Mr Robb said that Northern Australia will be a centre of international investment due to the potential for large-scale international projects to be built across hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable soil land in diverse sectors.

“On account of an exploding middle class across the Asia Pacific this will be the century of food, water and energy security,” Mr Robb said.

“The region’s middle class is set to grow from 600 million to more than three billion over the next 20 to 30 years and Australia is geographically and economically placed to provide that security to our neighbours in the Asia Pacific.”

“Individual enterprises involving 30,000 hectares of sugar, or 20,000 hectares of fruit and vegetable crops, or 75,000 to 100,000 hectares of specialist crops will resemble mines in their capacity to largely or fully fund water, power and transport infrastructure, except they will be exporting a renewable resource.

“The Etheridge Integrated Agriculture Project west of Georgetown for example would involve 50,000 hectares of irrigated cropping, including sugar and sorghum. There would be significant infrastructure investment, including dams, a sugar mill, ethanol production and power generation facilities,” he said.

Mr Robb said Free Trade Agreements recently concluded with Japan and Korea, and other bi-lateral (China) and regional trade and investment agreements in advanced stages of negotiations would “provide a much stronger network of country-to-country partnerships to support these opportunities.”

Mr Robb also said the development of Australia’s North presented an opportunity to grow the Northern international tourism market to two million visitors a year by 2030, and provide further opportunity for Australia’s Indigenous people.

 “As we create a policy environment that welcomes foreign investment to drive development in the North, more opportunity for Indigenous Australia will result, and not just in tourism and resources and energy,” he said.

“It will occur across all of the investment sectors such as agriculture, agribusiness, aquaculture, water infrastructure, and all of the infrastructure and services that will support these developments.”

Media enquiries

  • Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555