As Barnaby Joyce touches down in Townsville today for his first official engagement as the new federal agriculture minister, he'll be getting a clear message from producers.

AgForce boss Charles Burke says it's now time for the government to put "rubber on the road" in resourcing and implementing northern Australia policy.

Former Queensland Treasurer Keith De Lacy, who's now heavily involved in several major agricultural development projects, agrees and has offered some advice to the incoming Coalition government as it sets about restoring a Budget surplus.

"It's no secret the regulatory miasma which exists in this country and which has developed over the past five or 10 years has been a great deterrent to economic development," he said.

"But I think we're getting a recognition of that and all of the soundings coming from government these days tells us that they're going to do something about it.

"Let's hope we've reached that point."

The value in developing northern Australia - the part of the country above the Tropic of Capricorn - has long captivated politicians, agriculturalists, investors and regional communities.

Most agree the north holds huge potential, but opinions start to differ once the discussion turns to how it should be realised.

Nowhere is that division more apparent than on Cape York Peninsula, an area which the Queensland Government has already indicated it is willing to open up to development.

The Deputy Premier, Jeff Seeney, yesterday unveiled maps detailing which parts of Cape York would be available to mining, forestry and cropping.

It's still a working draft, but has immediately come under fire from conservation groups which believe the plan goes too far.

But longtime Cape York resident Graham Elmes is equally disappointed the document ignores previous scientific work and believes it could hinder regional economic development.

In fact, Mr Elmes says an audit recently carried out as part of the regional planning process barely reflects existing agricultural production, let alone accurately identifies areas for expansion.

"They are still referring to that audit which, whoever wrote that, is absolutely scandalous. It should be torn up and put into the toilet bowl," he said.

"They had Lakeland listed for 'small localised industry'.

"Now, the amount of bananas that are coming out of Lakeland at the moment are going to Perth and all over Australia, so I suppose they call Perth and Melbourne our localised area?"

The Cape York draft regional plan which will undergo further reviews before it's released for public feedback in November.

 

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