Northern Australia is the focus of intense development and investment interest. At the Commonwealth level alone, promotion of the northern Australia development agenda is facilitated by a dedicated Ministerial portfolio and departmental office, a road map for investment opportunities and policy reform (‘White Paper on Developing Northern Australia’), a $5 billion development financier (Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility), and tens of millions of dollars in research and innovation expenditure. The ‘north’ is being touted as a key to Australia’s post-COVID economic recovery, particularly through the so-called ‘gas-led recovery’. Yet, such ambition to unlock the economic potential of the north is not new. For all manner of reasons, impediments to development have historically limited the broadscale transformation (e.g., industrialisation) of the region’s vast savannas, arid landscapes and extensive coastline.
This report aims to start ‘connecting the dots’. With a focus on the Northern Territory (although much will be applicable to northern Queensland and northern Western Australia), we describe and contextualise the decision-making environment around new development, especially as this relates to the management of ecological (and linked cultural) impacts