$1.2b 'dynamic' economic plan for the north and Mackay

PRIME MINISTER Tony Abbott wants Mackay and the rest of northern Australia to be synonymous with one word - dynamic.

He has finally released the Federal Government's widely-anticipated economic plan aimed at helping regions and industries above the tropic of Capricorn reach their full potential.

The Northern Australia White Paper details $1.2 billion in funding, including $600 million in roads over the next four years and $200 million to investigate whether any rivers can work as dams for the notoriously parched part of the nation.

It is on top of $5 billion in concessional loans for major infrastructure in the north and the already announced $100 million beef roads fund to help improve cattle supply chains.

"If the north goes well, the country goes well," Mr Abbott said.

"We want it to be more dynamic."

The government plans to make it easier to use natural assets with the support of indigenous communities, and change land-use laws.

Other challenges to be addressed include investing in infrastructure to reduce business and household costs and cutting barriers to employing people.

Some funding must include the financial support of the Queensland, Northern Territory and West Australian governments

The blueprint is set to be rolled out over the next two, five, 10 and 20 years.

The majority of the 1.3 million people over the three million square kilometres that make up northern Australia live along the coastline in Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Darwin.

Mackay was found to have the highest unemployment rate for people aged 15 and over across the northern area at 9%.

The paper found workers in northern Australia faced a number of unique challenges in certain industries, such as mining and agriculture as two examples.

It stated the workers were required to be onsite in difficult conditions away from their families without typical suburban conveniences such as medical facilities and entertainment and sporting facilities.

The large weight of construction in the northern economy meant many businesses and their workers were vulnerable to "boom and bust" economic conditions.

Despite that there are 50 proposed mines and mine expansions under consideration in the Bowen and Galilee basin.


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