WHEN a government sets up a dedicated office with the sole objective of promoting the jurisdiction’s agenda as part of the overall development of northern Australia, it should not be too much to expect that the body can quantify its annual goals.
Unfortunately, the Giles government’s Northern Australia Development Office – the only one of its kind – cannot outline what it will achieve for Territorians in 2015, preferring instead to utilise catchphrases as it waits for the federal government to release the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
During a briefing last week, NADO general manager Luke Bowen was quick to tell the Katherine Times that there were “a lot of balls in the air” until the white paper was unveiled early next year, adding that the office currently had no quantifiable targets it wanted to tick off over the next 12 months.
How is that possible for a body created for no other purpose?
While the NT government has raised several strong points in response to June’s Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia, it will be embarrassed if NADO is not zeroing in on defined goals that do not rely on Canberra pulling out its already-strained chequebook.
There is not enough federal political traction in spending billions of dollars on development in the Territory, so the NT government needs to focus on private sector investment as a matter of urgency.
The Chief Minister – who also holds the government’s Northern Australia Development portfolio – needs to explain why the office he created to push the development agenda of the Territory appearsto be sitting on its hands as it waits to see howmany federally-funded balls come crashing down around it.
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