North Queensland mayors have welcomed the coalition's plans for their region but say they would prefer a firm commitment to economic growth instead of more talk.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says a coalition government would turn the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland and Western Australia into a hub for food production, energy exports and tourism.

He's promised a government under his leadership would produce a white paper on opportunities for the region within 12 months of being elected.

Far north Queensland mayors have welcomed the news but say they want a firm policy commitment to boost industry and population numbers in the region.

"We hear the talk all the time, and what we want to see is a bit more of the walk," Rosa Lee Long, mayor of Tablelands, near Cairns, told AAP.

"We've got all the land available and every type of climate and we can produce anything you like."

Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady said: "I still welcome this but I'd have been far more happy had there been a lot more meat on the bone."

Mr McGrady wants a tax incentive scheme where residents are exempt from paying tax on the first $10,000 of their yearly income.

Townsville Deputy Mayor Vern Veitch said any discussion needed to include environmental protections, especially for tourism mecca the Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said past discussions about tax incentives hadn't amounted to much.

"It's not that we feel unloved up here at times, but we do feel there is huge potential for growth and development," he said.

"What I'd like to see is an incoming government place a high priority on making some decisions that involve action."

The white paper would consider ways to exploit the region's potential as a "food bowl" and double the nation's agricultural output, boost domestic and international tourism and build an energy export industry worth $150 billion.

 

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