New line marking inches its way toward Gympie down the Bruce Highway. Photo Craig Warhurst/The Gympie Times
New line marking inches its way toward Gympie down the Bruce Highway. Photo Craig Warhurst/The Gympie Times Craig Warhurst

Bruce Hwy upgrades needed to help develop northern Australia

UPGRADING the Bruce Hwy and new zoned tax benefits and infrastructure for Australia's north were the key calls for action from an inquiry into developing northern Australia.

The inquiry, which will later feed into Abbott government policy through a green and white paper later this year, reported its findings to parliament on Thursday.

One of the report's 42 recommendations were new tax benefits for mining companies to employ locals, rather than engaging fly-in fly-out workforces.

It also called for more money for the Bruce, Outback Way and beef development roads across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Kimberley regions.

A new research centre for agriculture, to be based at local universities and a "department of northern Australia" would be created, and housed, in the north, the inquiry proposed.

Inquiry chairman Warren Entsch said the region had "in the past" lacked a commitment to development, and was sitting on vast land, water and mineral resources which could be developed.

The report also recommended the government investigate ways to reduce insurance premiums in the north, where cyclones and other natural disasters have sent premiums soaring in recent years.

An official response to the inquiry is expected to be included in the government's green and white papers on northern Australia, with further consultation before any proposals become official policy.

- APN NEWSDESK



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