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2015 Federal budget harks back to old ideas for northern Australia

Andrew Campbell writes in The Conversation (19.5.15) that ‘Treasurer Joe Hockey’s announcement of a A$5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in last week’s budget has been met with cynicism in the media. 

‘Bernard Keane writing on Crikey argued “the ‘infrastructure Prime Minister’s’ second budget containing no worthwhile new infrastructure investment outside a northern Australia boondoggle fund”.

‘A tad harsh?

‘The facility plays into a wider discussion around northern Australia, to be laid out in the forthcoming White Paper on Developing Northern Australia (along with an Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper). These may well establish a robust policy framework to guide infrastructure investment.

‘Northern Australia has 5.6% of Australia’s population (2011), comprises 45% of the land mass and generated 11.7% of GDP in 2013. Determining our share of national infrastructure investment is properly a political judgement.

‘But how infrastructure funding is invested, on what projects and via what governance and delivery mechanisms, is rightly open to policy, academic and public scrutiny.’

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