“Northern Australia” inconsistent and unfair, say veg growers
The Federal Government’s proposed $5 billion investment in Northern Australia follows inconsistent and unfair boundaries and excludes valuable regional centres, according to national peak vegetable industry body AUSVEG and Western Australian peak vegetable body vegetablesWA.
Legislation for the Government’s $5 billion Northern Australia fund, which is currently before the Senate, defines Northern Australia as including the entire Northern Territory and “the areas of Queensland and Western Australia that are north of the Tropic of Capricorn”, with some additional areas included in Queensland.
This definition excludes Carnarvon, a major regional hub in Western Australia with a horticulture industry worth over $100 million – or more than 10 per cent of the entire horticulture production of Western Australia.
“The Federal Government’s definition of Northern Australia using the Tropic of Capricorn is inconsistent with previous approaches and unfairly excludes key regional centres, including Carnarvon,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Andrew White.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
“Western Australian Government departments and agencies consider Carnarvon to be within the scope of northern Western Australia for the purposes of infrastructure development. It makes no sense for the Federal Government to disregard this precedent,” said vegetablesWA Executive Officer John Shannon.
“On top of this, Federal Government departments already recognise Carnarvon’s position in regional northern Western Australia as requiring special consideration, with the Australian Taxation Office’s Zone Tax Offset offering taxpayers an allowance for living in Carnarvon thanks to its isolated location.”
The definition of Northern Australia includes allowances for areas below the Tropic of Capricorn to be included based on regional boundaries used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with some areas included in the definition extending further south than Carnarvon. It also specifically includes mining town Gladstone, which is south of the Tropic of Capricorn.
“The Government’s definition of Northern Australia for Queensland and Western Australia is nominally based on the Tropic of Capricorn, but thanks to the special conditions in the legislation, the definition’s southern boundary in Queensland is entirely below that line – sometimes hundreds of kilometres south of the actual Tropic of Capricorn,” said Mr White.
“If they’re willing to make these exceptions, we ask that they acknowledge Carnarvon’s huge economic value and make sure that this key area can benefit from their $5 billion investment. In reality, the 26th parallel would be a far better boundary for Northern Australia.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Shaun Lindhe, Manager – Communications, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: email@example.com