A $15 million study into northern Australia’s water and soil resources, coming out of Nationals Leader Michael McCormack’s portfolio, has been released.
The initiative was spurred by the Northern Australia White Paper and is aimed at developing the region’s food production potential.
The study identifies sites for catchments for potential new dams and irrigated cropping.
It focused on three river catchments – the Mitchell in Queensland, Darwin in the Northern Territory and Fitzroy in Western Australia.
“Water is critical to the wellbeing of our nation and these assessments will enable governments to develop science-based land and water management plans that could see up to double, even triple, the current water allocations being made available to underpin new economic growth in these regions,” Mr McCormack said.
CSIRO project leader Dr Chris Chilcott said the study identified potential for 387,000 hectares of crops such as cotton and sugar cane which could potentially generate more than 15,000 jobs and $5.3 billion in economic activity throughout northern Australia annually.
Mr McCormack said the would study enable governments to develop science-based land and water management plans for their regions.
Agriculture and Water Minister David Littleproud said the study could help generate more than 2,800 jobs around Darwin and boost its economy by more than $2.5b.
The Mitchell catchment could gain 7000 jobs and $1.5b and the Fitzroy catchment could support another 180,000ha of irrigated farmland, he said.
Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the study could help harness fresh water resources.
“Around 60 per cent of Australia's rainfall falls on the 40pc of the country that makes up Northern Australia,” Senator Canavan said.
So most of Australia's rainfall falls in the north, yet most of our dams and water infrastructure is in the south. Clearly, harnessing the rivers of our north should be our next great nation building initiative.
For the full report visit: www.csiro.au/NAWRA