The Australian Greens said today that critical investment in communities and infrastructure in Northern Australia needs to be based on clean, green industries, not a short term rush to exploitative resource development and unsustainable intensive agriculture.
"Northern Australia deserves a future of responsible and long term investment, not one of exploitation," Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
"Too often, the old parties seem focused on opening Northern Australia up through intense resource development and the pipe-dream of intensive agriculture, but they're ignoring the fact that investments need to be made with the long term interests of the whole community in mind, not just big business.
"Moves to support local companies and businesses are to be encouraged, as are efforts to deliver important community infrastructure, but this needs to be done in a responsible manner. The scarcity of details from the old parties means we really don't know what type of development they are pushing.
"What is clear is that we're already seeing concern about the potential impact of expanded oil and gas exploration in the NT. Just this week I was in Maningrida, where Clan Leaders and community members spoke to me about their concerns over the NT Government's pursuit of oil and gas exploration off the Arnhem Land coast.
"Clan Leaders clearly outlined their concerns that mining would harm their country and their identity. They've sought meetings with the mining company's CEO, but the request has gone nowhere. This is a significant concern, given applications for mining exploration tenements now surround most of Arnhem Land's coast and 90% of the land itself.
"Opening the north up to further mining and industrialisation also opens the door to pollution and environmental and cultural threats. Irresponsibly pursuing the notion of intensive agriculture across the north of Australia brings with it the prospect of unsustainable land use, changes to water flow, pollution and invasive species, all of which have the capacity to radically change this part of our country.
"The Greens strongly support investments to deliver better infrastructure, safer communities and better accessibility to health services. These investments are important for delivering employment and education opportunities, but need to come on the back of clean, green industries that will provide jobs and economic strength for the long term.
"Smart and responsible investments are there for the long term and will provide job security and be drivers for community investment for many decades. This should be the focus of governments at a state, territory and Federal level. The Greens will closely examine the Governments plan and will stand up to protect the rights of people and the safety of our environment," Senator Siewert concluded.