1L7A3758-facebookThe 2016 Developing Northern Australia Conference; Above the Line – unleashing the north’s potential wrapped up on Tuesday after two days of collaborative discussion to develop and build a sustainable, liveable region to last for years to come.

The Conference was chaired by Dr Allan Dale, head of the Conference Advisory Committee. It opened with The Hon Adam Giles, MLA, Northern Territory Chief Minister and The Hon Matt Canavan, Minister for Northern Australia.

The Opening Address was delivered by Sharon Warburton, Chair Designate of the Board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). The NAIF will offer up to $5 billion in concessional finance to encourage and complement private sector investment in economic infrastructure.

The Hon John Brumby, National President, Australia China Business Council spoke on: The role of China in unleashing the north’s potential. He said;

“Massive growth in the Chinese middle class means boom in tourism, exports, agribusiness and education”.

Keynote Speaker Peter Yu, Chief Executive Officer, Nyamba Buru Yawuru, presented on Sharing risk and managing opportunities – a new way of doing business in the north. He said:

“We need new, innovative and creative Indigenous engagement and consultation strategies”.

1L7A3841-facebookWith 12 Forums chaired by leaders in their respective fields and based on the key themes of the Federal Government’s White Paper, this high level conference discussed the development of land and water; business, trade and investment; infrastructure; food and agribusiness; and tourism for the region. Also addressed were workforce opportunities and challenges; industry working with defence; indigenous affairs; international education; tropical health; and governance.

Keynote Speaker Mr Chris Wilson, President, ConocoPhillips Australia Business Unit West spoke on: The LNG Industry and sustainable northern development.

“Australia will soon be the largest LNG producer in the world. Despite investment challenges, Darwin LNG has a strong future and Conoco Phillips is investing $10 billion in Northern Australia” said Mr Wilson.

Keynote Speaker Professor Ruth Wallace , Director of the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University reminded us of the workforce and demographic challenges facing the north, and particularly the out migration of young women in their 20s and 30s, the importance of health and education services. Other keynotes included Kevin Byrne, Advance Cairns, Northern Alliance, Tony Eyres (Austrade) and Russell Barnett (Broome Future).

Head of the Northern Territory Government’s Northern Australia Development Office, Luke Bowen, as leader of the Business, Trade and Investment Forum, reported back to the conference with the following summary “ We need to work with our strengths, find the right people and focus on liveability in Northern Australia.

1L7A3808-facebookA willingness for cross industry collaboration including new and emerging industries and a need to understand opportunities and act upon them using data, science and facts when building our story and to be innovative.

Submissions to Government for the next White Paper is likely to include; cross border, indigenous engagement, consistency with government regulations and the energy sector.

We need to prepare for investment, make sure our story is strong and welcome foreign investment. In addition to China – other countries are investment ready too.”

The conference closing remarks were delivered by Dr Allan Dale who articulated the key opportunities for ensuring the conference has an impact over the next 12 months. He said this would rely on:

  • All conference participants acting on the key take home messages in the coming 12 months;
  • Key cross-sectoral alliances progressing these messages into the important policy-informing work that they do (e.g. the Northern RDA Alliance, the Northern Alliance (Private Sector), NAILSMA, GNARTN, etc.);
  • The WA, NT and Queensland Governments and the Commonwealth picking up these key themes in continuous improvement in whitepaper delivery and new policy and investment responses; and
  • Using the conference’s extensive communication platforms to keep the northern development agenda in the national consciousness.

Feedback from delegates was extremely positive, with some key pointers about how to keep improving the conference program and diversity of speakers. With nine keynote speakers, 12 Forum leaders and 85 Forum speakers over two days, participants wholeheartedly collaborated and took part in shaping the future of the North.

Session Podcasts will shortly be available for participants.