THE federal government's White Paper on Developing Northern Australia is now underway, with a document expected within 12 months.
A Green Paper will be released in the next few months. The White Paper Taskforce will draw on submissions to the Commonwealth Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia and will also consider contributions.
A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia has been formed, chaired by Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch. The Committee will begin the community consultation process next month and report to Parliament in July.
"It’s vital that we start looking at opportunities that have already materialised and judge them on their merits, rather than on philosophical opposition or by acquiescing to a minority group," Mr Entsch said.
"Considering what is proposed to happen in this region, I think we’re in for some very prosperous times."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the White Paper will demonstrate how Northern Australia can become a food bowl for Asia, as well as planning for a $150 billion energy export industry and growth in tourism, education and health.
"A stronger Northern Australia will benefit everyone with more jobs and more successful companies, leading to more revenue to pay down debt and provide more funding for infrastructure and services," Mr Abbott said on the weekend.
He conceded that national debate was currently focused on existing businesses facing tough competition, rather than establishing new companies in an uncertain economic climate, but said future planning such as the White Paper was essential.
"The best way a government can help any business is by getting the economic fundamentals right so that businesses can grow and thrive," he said.
Northern Australia is broadly defined as the parts of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, spanning Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland; an area of approximately three million square kilometres with a population of around one million people.