Dear Leader decrees northern happiness

Tony Abbott’s on-again, off-again liberalism is on display again today with the leaking of a draft plan to develop northern Australia. From the Daily Telegraph:

In an embarrassing high-level leak to The Daily Telegraph, the 30-page document outlines plans for the mass migration of public service workers to north of the Tropic of Capricorn to Karratha, about 1500km north of Perth, Darwin and Cairns.

Personal income tax incentives are also proposed to lure private sector workers north of the border, while major defence facilities would also be relocated.

The draft policy has been circulated among senior levels of the Coalition and was sent to state and territory premiers three weeks ago.

It qualifies the document by claiming it is not “definitive or comprehensive” but seeks input from the states.

The detailed but un-costed economic plan reveals the Opposition Leader’s plans to split the country in half, and create a new food bowl and energy industry economy above the 20 degree south parallel.

I’ll let readers decide what they think of this rather Chinese looking central-planning document (by which I mean no disrespect necessarily). It ain’t long and it’s below.



  1. GunnamattaMEMBER

    I wonder if it is the same plan that Menzies brought out for each election in the 1950s and 60s.

    Good to see the Torynuffs recycling

    • Yes, I am too young to remember Menzies, and almost too young to remember Gough, but I also got the feeling of recycling when I was reminded of Gough’s big plans for decentralisation.

  2. Tony Abbott’s plan seems to be to increase food production, not destroy it and in so doing force a massive famine upon his pitiful subjects. ‘Dear Leader’ is a tad sensationalist, or dare I say, Murdoch-esque.

    • True enough. I thought it a fair angle given the plan itself is unlikely to fly but Tony’s willingness to shift from loving markets to grand central planning seemed interesting.

      • The irony certainly wasn’t lost on me, but you have to be careful with analogical satire these days, just ask Christopher Pyne.

      • Tony is an economic and social conservative. Is it his fault that the media paints him as a free market Libertarian??

        He has a government led plan to plant trees in order to combat carbon emissions, for crying out loud.

      • More jobs for the SES though so he can credit the tree planting for creating jobs in related industries.

        I do hope he thinks about this seriously and moves the dead weight up to the North. He can start by moving the Parliament House in Canberra brick by brick. They can work on the TV cameras in around 50 years when the NBN finally reaches them.

      • Mav, in light of recent ‘forests are the lungs of the earth’ rediscovery by UK Uni – Abbott might just be on to something.

      • Straw man. I wasn’t criticising Abbott’s idea, just the media painting him as pro-market/anti-big government libertarian when, self-evidently, he is clearly not one.

      • Some in the media think it’s not such a bad idea. In fact, it may be a good agenda. In keeping with the red theme; REMEMBER

        In praise of Abbott’s great leap northward.

        “In short, it is a plan to transform the nation by rapidly developing its least populated regions. There’d be new dams, PNG hydro-electricity to supply baseload power and a 15 year ‘rolling priority list’ of infrastructure spending. ”

        Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

      • “self-evidently, he is clearly not one”

        An opinion only, it is not at all self evident. You have no evidence to suggest this as yet , unless you are priveliged to know exactly how an LNP Govt would execute the policy.

        Don’t be confused by good policy = must be Big Govt , which I know is the Leftist formula.There are other means available. Let’s just wait and see shall we?

        One thing is for sure. This, if it gets up which I believe it will, will capture many imaginations and at the very least bring some confidence back that at least Govt has some plans for OUR collective future – other than doing whatever it has to to cling to power and f%^k the rest of you citizens.

        Moving PS jobs to Regional Australia is a good thing. Wash out a lot of that pompous city green chardonnay academic latte culture and replace it with some simple commonsense, perhaps?

      • Moving PS jobs to Regional Australia is a good thing. Wash out a lot of that pompous city green chardonnay academic latte culture and replace it with some simple commonsense, perhaps?
        There used to be plenty of PS in regional areas, but it got moved back to the cities (or eliminated) in the guise of saving money.

      • Vic. Labour relocated jobs out of Melbourne CBD. Looks like it was a success;

        You misunderstand, I think.

        I would love to see expansion of regional areas because I have a preference for a wider distribution of population.

        My point was that public service jobs were, over the last couple of decades, extensively centralised or eliminated from regional areas precisely because of people screeching about “Government waste”.

    • They shouldn’t have let all that farm land to be sold. It’s the dumbest thing along with populating, Australia will do is let it continue.

  3. Well I think our growth plan should just be kept as it is. Bring in migrants, park them in Sydney and Melbourne, build houses, retail shops and restaurants and call it growth.
    Blimey one day you are criticising the Libs claiming they have no ‘Big Vision’ Next thing you are criticising them for having a bit of a think about the possibilities of this country as a nation and how we might get there.

    I don’t think the proposal is a rejection of markets at all. It’s just setting a framework within which markets operate. A framework that doesn’t involve parasitising the rest of Australia to expand Sydney and Melbourne doesn’t seem like a bad idea to this bloke. But then I’m not a bridge-playing sophisticate of Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne.

    • You may have noted I did not criticise the plan. In fact, I went to some lengths to not do so.

      I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Could be. But a two page photocopy is not enough to go on.

      However, it does point to an inconsistency in Abbott’s approach, so I went with that. I’ll also remind you that I”ve been pretty praiseworthy of Hockey’s vision building.

      If it’s a bit over the top then shite I gotta get you to read it!

      • Fair enough…sorry!!!
        “I went to some lengths to not do so.” Sounds like it was painful 🙂

        I’ve been damned skeptical of Hockey’s vision thing. I really dislike ‘motherhood’ statements but I guess it’s ‘vision’ not reality!

        I’ll also try to remember the journalistic license! 🙂

    • +1 flawse.

      It’s simply a framework. And not a bad one, well overdue in my books. If it get’s to Policy stage well we can all sit around nit picking and harping on about execution. But as a means of spurring growth and further developing this remote bountiful land, I like it.

      I know ,as usual, there will be the myriad of armchair experts in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra offices, ever ready to denigrate TA and the LNP approach to Govt. and economic development. Yesterday they were again with the usual moaning about JWH and how the LNP (Never the ALP) squandered opportunities. They will be back again throwing shyte at this too. Situation normal.

    • I generally think Abbott is a turkey. But I like most of this. Moving the defence stuff up there makes sense and a couple of hospitals and uni’s to go with them couldn’t hurt. Public servants will all whinge of course but they’ll whinge anyway.
      The special tax rates is ridiculous though and does remind one of Gina’s poem.
      First decent idea I can recall from Tony.

    • dumb_non_economist

      This has been talked about a number of times before, I don’t understand why anyone would get excited as nothing is going to come of it as the minute Abbott is elected that doc will be shredded. If anyone wants an idea of where we are headed, just look at where we have come in the last 30 yrs, more of the same and that is all.

      Until we are hit on the head with a brick we will continue down the same path.

      • Yep. If it creates more investment opportunities , jobs , exports and a stronger economy it must be positively evil! Especially if the nemesis of the Left Rhinehart benefits from it too. I mean, where is the wisdom of making it easier for capital to find better and broader returns in Australia?

        Now, on the other hand…………. err…?

        Oh, i know, let’s pump hundreds of millions more in taxpayer money into making more (Union labour) cars nobody wants. There’s a winner!

      • dumb_non_economist


        I don’t think you get it. Gina’s idea is no tax and slave labour and whether that’s good or not for this country doesn’t matter.

      • dumb,
        “If anyone wants an idea of where we are headed, just look at where we have come in the last 30 yrs, more of the same and that is all.

        Until we are hit on the head with a brick we will continue down the same path.”

        Exactly my sentiments, to the letter, just before I voted for Whitlam. Last voting mistake I ever made.

  4. Mining BoganMEMBER

    I like the bit that says it was a leak. We all know Rupert writes Liberal Party policy. The headline should read…

    ‘This Is What Tony Will Say Next.’

  5. Is there any relationship between this document and Gina’s idea of a ‘special northern Australia’ zone?

    I’d speculate that guest workers and special tax-free industrial zones will also be in there somewhere (even though they’re not specifically referred to in the doucment). Anyway, trying to ‘grow’ Darwin into a huge city of a million plus isn’t a new idea, it’s been around since the 1970’s when they built the satellite city of Palmerston; the plan was to eventually have a million or more people living there but the problem has always been in getting sustainable industry there (a LOT of things have been tried and failed in and around Darwin, especially agricultural projects). Presently it’s also the most expensive city in Australia so how are they proposing to house all these new people?

    It’s all hot air, except possibly for the guest worker program (which I’m sure Gina will get her way on).

    • I can barely read it and detail is light but I can’t see any reference to addressing the parlous state of Darwin housing. Surely housing has to be addressed asap.
      Tellingly fibre broadband infrastructure also fails to get a mention.
      But it’s its a start.
      Tony is calling for public input in the last sentence. Maybe a short LVO Housing policy submission would be timely.
      Bubbley where are you?

      • Darwin has become so expensive that (I’ve heard) there’s difficulty with getting cleaners, cafe staff, shop assistants etc etc because people on those sort of wages can’t afford to live there. They’ve been having the same sorts of issues in inner Sydney for some time. In the past there was a large pool of Housing Comission homes available for people moving up from down south (especially teachers, professionals and government workers) but I’m imagining that as with Housing Comission elsewhere it is probably non-existant now?

      • True about the blue collar jobs but even government employees can’t afford to live in Darwin any more.

        Housing commission in Darwin is a joke, along with affordable housing.

      • +1 FFS Darwin housing approvals were DOWN 30% on the latest figures. Something is seriously wrong. Although the disaster does provide us a neat case study of how grossly overpiced land can suck the productive potential out of an economy.
        Fix Housing First.

      • Where am I Pat? Canada. The snow boarding is awesome this season.

        I signed in to MB today just so I cold express my forehead palming, spluttering outrage at this political party’s rampant stupidity.

        At the moment people are leaving Darwin like Lemmings on migration. They can’t get out of the place fast enough due to the high cost of living and a increase in power of 40%. This, in a climate where people live in air conditioning for 8 months of the year.

        Yet no one in the Liberal party thought to do a search on on rental properties. If they had they would ave seen that a cheap 2 bedroom apartment is $450 a week and any 3 bedroom place is around $700pw.

        If they had searched houses to buy, the cheapest would be around $520,000 – and it would be a cock roach infested hovel masquerading under the title of First Home owners bargain.

        Where are they going to house all these tens of thousands of people? There is no where to put them in Darwin or Karatha ( rents there are worse, around $1200pw) or even in WA.

        And this potentially the next government of Australia – incapable of performing a simple Internet search.

        Yes, I am concerned about where this country is going when this bunch of idiots can’t even consider one of the most basic human requirements, shelter, in a major policy.

      • Tony does talk about “adding flexibility to land use controls”.
        Maybe he wants a texas approach to planning and development.

    • Labor has already given Gina that via the backdoor – its called Enterprise Migration Agreement and a homeopathic MRRT.

    • I am in favour of special economic zones as long as it is meshed with regional government. Personally I would like to see them have a go at fixing Tasmania.
      The guest worker program is in full swing as well, I was speaking to a fellow yesterday who is on a contract with the CSG wells at Roma, the complete site is full of Irish construction workers who were earning 30k in Eire and now earning $120k plus all on 457’s

      • +1 3dik,

        The Left/Green economic model for Australia is incubating in Tasmania. Keep us informed of the wonderful progress?

      • Good article and I agree, Tasmania is what Australia would like without resources, I liked the comment that it was like Zambia.
        High cost realestate though is at the heart of low productivity and noncompetitivness and people not wanting to relocate.

        i wonder how much land they will release at Karratha or just enough to keep the prices high.

      • Jack,

        All the 457’s I see are FIFO workers. No need to relocate. Just be more enterprising and willing to sacrifice for a better tomorrow. In other words; stepping up.

      • …or geographic location; infa-noise; rare earth minerals dependencies; fluctuations etc … just sayin’

      • “who is on a contract with the CSG wells at Roma, the complete site is full of Irish construction workers who were earning 30k in Eire and now earning $120k plus all on 457′s”

        I see this all over the Pilbara. And how much moaning do we hear daily about never enough well paid jobs? They wont be found in the big smoke thats for sure, while people wait for nanny Govt to provide.

        In Australia people are free to move and benefit from well paid employment. But when those jobs go begging for want of Australian labour, Business will do it another way. This is how far down we have fallen. Too lazy and soft to go bush and have a go.

      • Psychologically you have to be able to survive in that environment. I’m not disagreeing with what you are talking about – I agree that there’s jobs there if people want them – it’s just that having done that sort of thing myself as a new graduate in my 20’s I know for a fact that I don’t cope well outside of a big city.

        I lived and worked in a regional locale for 2 years and by the end of it I’d really had enough – I just wasn’t coping with it any more. It’s the lack of services and facilities that you take for granted in the city that you miss the most – that and the fact that if you don’t fit in with hunting/shooting/fishing culture then you tend to be isolated (that was my experience anyway). Personally I’d rather be under-employed in a big city than back in the country again.

      • “Personally I’d rather be under-employed in a big city than back in the country again”

        Sean G, I do hear you. And I think you are not alone.

      • Sean G

        The problem is that city people expect the country people to go on supporting them in their city non-productive lifestyles forever.

        Society in rural Australia has been being destroyed for nigh on 50 years. Our cities suck the life out of the rest of the nation, parasitising them even unto death.


    The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

    (ii) taxation; but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States….

  7. I come from Katter country and I’ll bet that there is only one target for this policy. I’ll also bet that it comes from the office of Arther Sinodinos.

  8. A curious aspect is the relocation of public service functions to northern centres. Darwin and Townsville already have abnormally high public service centres. An LNP proposal in Cairns before the last state election was to similarly move departments north to diversify the Cairns economy. This despite the Far North already having a healthy proportion of public sector employment albeit less than Darin and Townsville. The proposal doesn’t seem to have survived the election so far! The coalition position seems to have become somewhat confused on whether the public sector is good or bad for an economy.

    • So we are going to cut some Fed PS’s and move some more to Darwin/Cairns.

      Lookout Canberra RE

      • “So we are going to cut some Fed PS’s and move some more to Darwin/Cairns.”

        But………. there will be more bikepaths and those pretty centre verge gardens and lots more green things for ratepayers to get their teeth into. It will be a green bonanza!

      • Come now Patrician, look on the bright side. Imagine all those wagon trains of civil servants heading North, a healthy life of riding horses, fighting mozzies and crocs, machetes swinging through the bush.. A month or two of that and they’ll get an appreciation of the real world – no more web sites telling us how to fill a hot water bottle, no more prohibitions on kids blowing out candles.. Replacing the Nanny State with the Manly State – I think it’s an idyllic idea, when can they start moving them out?

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        As soon as the movement delegate gets the submission to approve, and the selection criteria on workplace diversity has had the appropriate PowerPoint presentation developed, and IT resets the passwords – maybe after lunch.

  9. The course of Brendan Grylls has made a pretty convincing argument regional Australia is subsidising the cities.

    So constitutionally we can’t favour areas via tax.

    No problem, favour it fiscally.

    The greatest way to get people ot of cities in the short to medium term… make public commute transport user pays

    Regional Australia wouldn’t suffer fiscally, cities would. It would probably shift the lifestyle balance in favour of non-capital cities.

  10. Maybe Abbott is on to something? If this is correct, “The Smart Money” may be heading into food too. Something to think about?;

    “Big, smart money flow has been moving out of equities, bonds, metals, and oil in general, with the grains and softs, and utilities, oversold PIIGS and Hong Kong to a lesser extent, getting my “benefit of the doubt” rating. What’s worrisome though is the fact that “the books don’t balance” so-to-speak: the huge outflows clearly overwhelm whatever inflows we see in the instruments that are given the benefit of the doubt. Is all that big, smart money simply going into cash in what has become a highly correlated Risk On, Risk Off world?”

    “Or is it leaving paper instruments all together? This indeed would be Bernanke’s worst nightmare. Consider the following.
    Soros-Backed Farms Ripe for Bid at 36% Discount: Real M&A
    Resilient Recessionary Hedge: 18 Companies With Large Farmland Holdings
    5 Reasons Investors Are Going Crazy For Farmland
    Why Jim Rogers is Investing in Farmland “

      • True RP. In that time the world’s population has grown how much? And the median income of the high population growth nations? The difference as I see it here is arable land in proximity to markets. Some gaps are closing. This bears closer watching.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Due to the vast variation in rainfall, it is not economical to farm in Northern Australia. That is why every single scheme to turn Northern Australia into a ‘food bowl’ has failed.

      That is not to say it’s impossible. The Incas managed to build a network of irrigation pipes over one thousand year ago with very primitive tools. With current technology, Australia can build a huge, inland irrigation system with a underground canal running from Mt Isa to Melbourne. It will take at least 100 year, but by the time it’s completed, it will totally transform the economy of Australia.

      • Ronin,
        That’s the kind of positive thinking absent in Govt these days, which we desperately need more of. Once the massive benefits are envisioned , then comes the effort and focus on delivery of cost effective engineering solutions. A common purpose for all Australians to have a stake in.

      • That’s the kind of positive thinking absent in Govt these days, which we desperately need more of. Once the massive benefits are envisioned , then comes the effort and focus on delivery of cost effective engineering solutions.

        Indeed. Imagine, for example, if some people had realised how important reliable high speed telecommunications infrastructure will be in the coming century and embarked on a plan to provide it to the whole country.

        Crazy stuff. You’d never see that sort of foresight here.

      • doc,

        “..high speed telecommunications infrastructure …”

        Didn’t you get the part about the “cost effective engineering solutions”.

        No ,course not. Too convenient not to. Destroys your narrative. In your left world cost never matters if it comes from your Big Nanny Govt?

      • The main problem in the NT is not the erratic rain fall but the bugs and birds that destroy the crops.

        Enormous amounts of food are produced in Asia in similar climatic conditions, the main difference being that land is farmed in smaller family plots rather than broad acre farms. What is a pest in Australia is a valuable source of protein in an Asian farmers diet and the harvesting of them for food keeps them under control.

        (FIL was an ag scientist in the NT specialising in crops for the tropics)

      • I always remember the cartoon in Art Linkletter’s book with he and another bloke crouching in the rice with pics of ducks emus etc all over the place. Art is saying to teh bloke..”Don’t make a noise or they’ll trample the whole bloody 20,000 acres”

        Broadacre and plenty of wildlife only too ready to consume the limited areas of Ag! More widespread Ag would lessen the problem… some cost to nature I guess.

  11. Constitutional issues in Abbott’s 2030 Vision

    Under s.51(ii) and s.99 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth can’t discriminate between States or parts of States in tax policy. But it can discriminate between Territories or parts of Territories, or between States and Territories.

    So an Abbott government wouldn’t be able to grant tax concessions to Cairns (Qld) or Karratha (WA). But it would be able to grant concessions to the entire Northern Territory or any part thereof.

    More generally, a reformist Federal government could impose a completely different tax regime on the NT, not only with a view to encouraging development in the NT, but also with a view to using the NT as a proving ground for radical tax policies, in order to discredit the scare campaigns that would otherwise prevent those policies from being introduced nationwide.

    After the 2030 Vision was leaked, Abbott said “it would be unconstitutional to civilly conscript public servants”. The only reference to civil conscription in the Constitution is in s.51(xxiiiA), by which the Federal Parliament can legislate with respect to “…medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription)”.

    So Abbott evidently believes that the protection against civil conscription is not limited to doctors and dentists. I agree. The more likely interpretation of the parenthesized words is that they uphold a more general implied prohibition of civil conscription, but are included in connection with medical and dental services because these are the only items in s.51(xxiiiA) for which the possibility of civil conscription might otherwise arise. That interpretation would agree with the opinion of Justice Murphy in General Practitioners Society v. Commonwealth (145 CLR 532, 1980).

    But if Abbott is right, how can it be constitutional to civilly conscript business operators to collect GST from their customers, or personal income tax from their employees? Clearly it can’t — at least if the conscripts are not compensated for the breach.

    • Gavin, could it would on the basis of enhanced 26th parallel. Surely not necessary conscript anyone. Advise that in three years (or some other) following departments or part thereof will be relocated to xxxx. Individuals free to determine where they choose to work and live.

  12. Somehow or other, a previous government managed to move the whole commonwealth public service from Melbourne to Canberra. So the idea is not without precedent.

    Of course, in that instance the Parliament moved first. Now there’s an idea …

    • Well a parliament with trapdoors under each MPs seat leading directly to a crocodile pit would focus the mind.

  13. One wonders if Australia would have been developed at all if 747/777/A380 were available back in the 1700’s.

    Sydney could just be temporary accomodation huts with everyone flying out from the UK to extract the resources. Who wants to live that far from Europe after all?

    Food for thought when we think about why new cities couldn’t develop over time.