farm dams in nortehrn australiaJeffrey Newman’s letter (“Investment in north will build nation“, April 17) glosses over the point that harvesting the 40 per cent of Australia’s rainfall that hits the dirt north of the Tropic of Capricorn is a capital investment issue. The capital is available – $5 billion from the Commonwealth and $1 billion from the Territory so far – but the water solution is not so easy.

This vast area of land is very flat, very hot and evaporation is monstrous. Compared with any other topography you can think of, this is about the worst place to contemplate building dams. This problem too can be solved, but it needs really clever people working in a Silicon Valley-style incubator to do it.  Actually, there are only three matters to solve for the north: water being available, usable and affordable.

The Developing Northern Australia Co-operative Research Centre and the proposed Future Water CRC ought to be able to build on the good work already done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and others to store massive amounts of water underground, deal with modest salinity, use solar-powered equipment, divert large rivers (eg, Snowy), use best-available irrigation practice and create a regulatory framework that supports a huge agricultural economy (eg, Murray Darling).

It also needs institutional co-investment capital, as well as all the things that have already been announced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and the governments of the area. To read more click here.

The Developing Northern Australia Conference Above the Line – unleashing the north’s potential will be held on 20-22 June 2016 at Darwin Convention Centre.

The Conference continues the dialogue started in 2015 following the release of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.  Early bird registrations close 6 May 2016, so be quick to receive a discounted rate.