Last week, I attended the third Developing Northern Australia Conference, which was held in Cairns.
These conferences have come out of Federal Government initiatives to develop that part of Australia, north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and feature a range of talks providing new ideas, research results and experiences gained by groups trying new things.
Demographer Bernard Salt stole the first session with a dramatic presentation indicating how Karratha needs to be supported to grow its population and how the North West in general needs a major increase in defence support.
We have, in today’s money, in the order of half a trillion dollars in vital industrial infrastructure across this part of Australia — and my constant mantra is we have only 30 permanent defence force personnel up here defending that. By comparison, there are 8000 each in Darwin and Townsville.
The importance of experienced-based tourism in a world where multinational brands are ubiquitous was also emphasised.
The value of waterfront to both community and tourists was also highlighted: water is universally appreciated and providing a unique waterfront experience will always be successful.