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Graduates who head to Top End could have HECS debts wiped


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PT0M0S 620 349

University graduates could have their student debts wiped if they moved to remote areas in northern Australia, under proposals to turbo-charge development in the Top End.

A report from federal parliament's Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, tabled on Thursday, recommended the appointment of a federal minister for northern Australia, who would be served by their own department which would be based above the Tropic of Capricorn.

The report, Pivot North, prepared by members and Senators from the Coalition, Labor and the Greens, is intended to inform the government's white paper on northern Australia, which is expected next year.

More than 267 pages, the report calls for major upgrades of road, rail, port, airport, water and broadband infrastructure in the north, and the relocation of defence assets and public service functions, including elements of the departments of agriculture, environment, foreign affairs and immigration departments.

"The development of northern Australia is one of the great challenges and opportunities facing the nation," the committee wrote in the report's introduction.

"Northern Australia covers over 40 per cent of Australia's land mass but contains only 4 per cent of Australia's population ... Northern Australia is on the doorstep of Asia and a significant portion of it is part of the tropical world, which by 2050 will encompass over half the world's population.

"There are great opportunities for the people of northern Australia within the tropical zone. But the development of northern Australia has in the past lacked a commitment by governments at all levels to pursue investment and development in a consistent, sustainable and coordinated way."

The committee acknowledged its report was just the latest of a number of inquiries on the potential of northern Australia since 1937 which were "gathering dust on shelves".

"It is now up to us to prove the sceptics wrong and get things moving," the committee wrote.

Among its other recommendations, the committee recommended the creation of a research centre on northern agriculture and further research on the idea of special economic zones.

"The committee acknowledges the constitutional issues surrounding the creation of special economic zones and the possible distortions in investment decisions caused by creating different legal regimes within the same polity. Nonetheless the committee considers that limited use of special economic zones will provide a mechanism," it wrote.

with Phillip Thomson and AAP


  • I wonder how practical the whole "develop the north" push is.
    One issue is if they build dams, the water may evaporate from those dams during the dry season, so you probably need covered dams.
    One very good option is to float solar panels on top of dams as it stop evaporation and generates electricity very efficiently as the water cools the cells.
    But any sort of covered dam will not be cheap.
    Then there is the damage to infrastructure caused by cyclones and floods and the need to build a considerable amount of infrastructure.
    Then there is the question of if people really want to live there, not to mention what crops can be grown in this areas and the costs of shipping in food etc.
    It may make sense to build ports with rail links to the rest of Australia, but the rest of "develop the north" is screaming white elephant to me.

    Sunshine Coast
    Date and time
    September 05, 2014, 9:58AM
    • Just what are all these graduates going to do up there??? Another nutty Abbott idea.

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 10:25AM
    • @Bazza. What are they going to do? Worship, worship. Tony is going to build the New Jerusalem there.

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 11:17AM
    • There must be reasons why the top end is not developed already....could it be that the English knew something that Abbott doesn't know????.....crocodiles, too much rain for 6 months, no rain for 6 months, poor soils, 48 degrees, miles away from current settlements, have you ever flown over the countless miles of arid flat country? what on earth makes up Tony Abbott's head?.....marbles? Or is he hellbent on destroying Kakadu as well as the Barrier Reef?

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 11:52AM
    • @Pluto -

      And did those feet in ancient time
      Walk upon the North's mountains green?
      And was the holy Lamb of God
      On Northern Australia's pastures seen?

      And did the Suppository of Wisdom
      Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
      And was Jerusalem builded here
      Among these dark, leftist Satanic shrills?

      Bring me my treasurer of burning gold:
      Bring me my donors of desire:
      Bring me my spear: dark clouds unfold!
      Bring me my war chariot of fire.

      I will not cease from being right,
      Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
      Till we have built Jerusalem
      In Australia's Northern cyclonic land.

      With apologies to William Blake RIP.

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 12:04PM
    • Clearly there is no-one that lives in North Qld by your logic.

      Also those vehicles you see loaded up going north of Cooktown are generally going off the Peninsula Development Road and using the old "Telegraph road". The roads a reguallarly graded in both the wet and dry seasons. The road is completely sealed from Mareeba to Rossville so a 6 hour inland road trip in now closer to 3 to 4 hours. Lakeland Downs/ Laura is your last fuel stop until Coen before you get to Weipa. Farming has failed in North Queensland. I agree, Sugar farming has been a massive failure, so is the dairy farming of the Tablelands, while your at it the Mango and Banana farming is a failure also. But the real big failure I think you would agree with has been Cattle Farming.

      But who really cares, it will only be wiped out by cyclones and flooding. But then again, maybe we could use the same town planners that Brisbane used and put our housing in flood zones like they have?

      Wujal Wujal
      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 12:13PM
    • Can these graduates also get the dole earlier than the six month waiting period too? Because there's high unemployment in Northern Queensland. Maybe they can just forage for coconuts and sleep on the beach?

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 12:15PM
    • @PaxUs. Delightful. Insightful and faithful to the original. Gently singing it now, and with your words!

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 2:54PM
  • Wonder how this will work when graduates get say dengue fever and other tropical diseases on the rise and start a class action for forcing them to move to such locations in the face of climate change and such increasing risk. This government might not believe in climate change - but courts will.

    Legal Claims
    Date and time
    September 05, 2014, 10:15AM
    • So all they have to do is move there for the minimum term until their HECS get wiped out, then moved back south debt free. Great idea!

      Date and time
      September 05, 2014, 10:30AM

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