The 2017 Developing Northern Australia Conference will be held at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel over 19-20 June.

Joe Morrison, CEO of the Northern Land Council joins us in Cairns next month to discuss ‘NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT:  AN INDIGENOUS PARADIGM’.

Peter Yu and I have delivered numerous addresses over several years at conferences related to the development of northern Australia.  Building on those, we argue that the north’s capacity to grow an inclusive economy by harnessing Asian investment and trade will remain severely impeded if current colonial structures and relationships are not urgently reformed.

In line with the theme of this year’s conference of ‘Progress, Growth and Investment’, this paper argues that the current approach to developing Northern Australia, as espoused in the White Paper and through the establishment of the Northern Australian Investment Facility, entrenches the failed ‘trickle down’ model of development and ignores the need to incubate smaller-scale development.

The paper sets out an approach to sustainably develop the region by embracing the uniqueness of Indigenous culture and our local economies whilst mobilising our property rights for orthodox development opportunities where the natural, cultural and labour forces exist. An inclusive and radically different model of development in north Australian will not be possible until the structures of settler colonialism are overturned.

Drawing on the reconstruction agenda of the Yawuru native title holders’ development in Broome and the emerging approach to economic development by the Northern Land Council, the paper proposes a vision of development which incorporates participatory land use, town planning, equitable finance arrangements, taxation incentives and land tenure policy changes to unlock the true potential of northern Australia.

For more information on the 2017 Developing Northern Australia Conference and to secure your spot, please visit