Forum delivering already

The Northern Australia Forum was held in Katherine, Northern Territory from 17-20 October 2000. Over 200 people, including 100 delegates representing the ten regions across northern Australia (generally defined as the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn), spent three days determining the future direction of sustainable development in the North.

The Federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald hosted the successful Forum, and enjoyed meeting with delegates.

Senator Macdonald said that while he would be delivering a comprehensive 'whole-of-government' response to the Forum early next year, there were things that he could do something about immediately. These include the following.

  • Establishing a bipartisan government approach to northern development through a regular meeting of Federal, Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory ministers.
  • The four governments contributing around $200,000 towards better marketing the north and investigating key business development opportunities.
  • Providing funding of $198,000 over two years to support the establishment of three additional TradeStart offices in northern Australia.
  • Promoting the North to policy and investment decision-makers across Australia through a series of seminars to be held in conjunction with the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). The Federal Government will contribute $30,000.
  • Providing $5,000 in sponsorship for the PNG Gas Project Symposium 2000 (Townsville Enterprise) with a view to supporting indigenous northerners who are developing industry opportunities.

Senator Macdonald said all delegates had agreed that it was important to make the North more accessible to investors and markets but to also achieve sustainable development.

"One way we can do this is through the better use of technology, including the use of the Internet. We will create a virtual 'gateway to Northern Australia' as part of a regional portal being developed by the Government and managed by my department."

The Mayor of Katherine, Jim Forscutt, and his council staff assisted with the Forum.

An unscheduled power failure at the Civic Reception also reminded delegates of the unique challenges faced by regional communities.

Conference papers and speeches are available on the Forum website at www.dotrs.gov.au.