PRIME Minister-elect Tony Abbott has announced that Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch will play a pivotal role in determining the future direction of the Far North.
Mr Entsch will Chair the committee which will formulate the White Paper that will drive the implementation of the Coalition’s Policy for Northern Australia.
“Northern Australia has faced significant challenges but there are now enormous opportunities – nowhere more so than in Far North Queensland,” Mr Entsch said.
“Tony asked me if I would take responsibility for formulating the White Paper and delivering it in 12 months’ time.
“I’m excited by the prospect of being able to contribute as the Chair, overseeing the writing of the White Paper with all of its resulting recommendations. The tabling of these recommendations will then provide us with an opportunity to establish an appropriate budget to commence the second phase, implementation.”
Mr Entsch served on the Howard Government’s Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce in 2006, when he travelled across the top end of Australia, from Kununurra to Cairns.
“My familiarity with the area and knowledge of the issues is going to be a great advantage,” he said.
“I’m very excited by the fact that we have a specific Northern Australia Policy; it is a cornerstone of our commitments as a government.
“Now, we’ve got 12 months to bed it down and put forward recommendations. We’ll have to look at all aspects in relation to water security, agricultural opportunities, land tenure, property insurance issues, diversity for economic security, energy, tropical education, health and sports, defence, fishing…. there’s a whole raft of things.”
Mr Entsch said many submissions had already been received to the draft ‘green’ paper that was released in June, which has potential to affect communities north of the Tropic of Capricorn, extending from Rockhampton to Exmouth.
“I’ll continue to encourage individuals and community leaders to submit their ideas. It is my intention also to travel widely across the region to maximise the opportunities for Northern Australia’s regional communities, so they all have input in the White Paper formulation.
“The recommendations in this White Paper will form the road map for governments in establishing the future economic, social and environmental policy direction for Northern Australia.”