Minister’s eyes opened to region
■ New Minister for Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg stopped over in the Pilbara during a weeklong initiation trip to the State last week.
But he was mum on topics like defence and migration agreements for WA.
When asked if the defence presence in the North West would be addressed in the long-awaited Defence White Paper, Mr Frydenberg, who had just visited some of the country’s key export facilities such as Rio Tinto’s Dampier Port and onshore gas processing facilities on the Burrup Peninsula, deferred to the new Defence Minister, Marise Payne.
He also had nothing to add on the progress of the establishment of a Designated Area Migration Agreement for the Pilbara, which the Government said it would pursue in its White Paper on Northern Australia Development.
A DAMA has been trialled in the Northern Territory since late last year.
Mr Frydenberg did say he would discuss with colleagues the prospects of developing the Tanami Road, which connects Halls Creek in the Kimberley to Alice Springs and is only partly bituminised.
Last month, the WA and NT Governments proposed a $680 million upgrade of the road to which they would contribute a combined $140 million with the intention the Commonwealth would pick up the other $540 million.
The proposed project would be completed in stages over 10 years.
The Tanami was one of seven priority road projects identified in the Northern Australia White Paper, but it’s competing with the other six for a share of $600 million that’s been set aside.
When he was Assistant Treasurer, Mr Frydenberg announced a Northern Australia Insurance Premiums Taskforce, which he said was on track. The final report is due to be delivered to the Government this month.
Mr Frydenberg said he wanted to come to the Pilbara early in his term and there were significant opportunities in the region.
“There’s a lot more I want to do with Melissa (Price) in her electorate and I’ll be doing that on subsequent visits,” he said.
“To see the highly skilled, motivated, entrepreneurial people working in the Pilbara has given me a lot of confidence for the future prospects of this region.”
To see the highly skilled, motivated, entrepreneurial people working in the Pilbara has given me a lot of confidence for the future.
Melissa Price and Josh Frydenberg with Yara Pilbara chief executive Mark Loquan at the under-construction TAN Project.