14 August, 2022
Northern Australia back on agenda
THE Federal Government has relented under fierce criticism and agreed to back a motion moved by Senator Susan McDonald to reinstate a parliamentary body to oversee issues and development in Northern Australia.
Senator McDonald, the Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, went on the attack after she was informed the Labor Federal Government had scrapped the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee for Northern Australia – a bi-partisan body tasked with examining the region’s issues and advising government.
She drafted a motion to reinstate the committee and began canvassing independent Senators for their support in a vote.
“The response I received from the independents was fairly positive and then Labor approached me and agreed to negotiate forming a new committee,” she said.
“The negotiations resulted in the establishment of a Joint Select Committee and ensures Northern Australia will continue to have a strong focus in Canberra.
“This motion was unanimously supported.”
Senator McDonald said Labor had made a mistake in reducing Northern Australia’s parliamentary presence.
“Northern Australia is of national significance. People in Melbourne and Sydney rely on minerals from this part of the country, much of the food they eat was likely grown in the North and mining royalties and taxes paid in the North fund roads and healthcare Australiawide,” she said.
Senator McDonald said she had received scores of complaints from Northern Australia community leaders concerned that Labor’s move would result in less funding for infrastructure and could even herald an intention to scrap the federal Northern Australia agenda altogether.