Boosting Indigenous participation in northern development

Media release
13 Dec 2019
Prime Minister, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Premier of Western Australia, Premier of Queensland

Indigenous Australians will take a stronger role in the economic development of Northern Australia under a new Accord launched at a Northern Australia Ministerial Forum in Katherine.

Ministers from the Commonwealth Government, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia launched a new Accord, agreed by the Northern Australia Strategic Partnership, that will provide a framework for parties to work together to advance Indigenous economic development in northern Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his Government looked forward to working with land councils and Traditional Owners to deliver more jobs and economic prosperity.

“This is about creating jobs across northern Australia, which is so important for the region, and our indigenous population. This can only be achieved by working closely together.”

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said Indigenous participation had always been a key aspect to economic development in the north.

“The Northern Australia Indigenous Development Accord will ensure that governments, communities, individuals and industry work together to advance Indigenous economic development across our north,” Minister Canavan said.

“The resources sector is already leading the way in creating opportunities for many Indigenous Australians, with around 3.7 per cent of our mining workforce and 4 per cent of mining industry apprentices and trainees being Indigenous – double the national average.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the Accord recognised that Indigenous participation in the northern economy was critical to increase productivity, encourage investment and create new jobs to accelerate growth across northern Australia.

“The Accord sets out the commitment of governments to strengthen Indigenous economic participation in this nationally significant northern development agenda, and includes milestones to allow progress to be monitored,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The Indigenous Development Accord is an important step in harnessing Aboriginal economic development and creating jobs across northern Australia. In the Territory we will work with land councils and Traditional Owners to deliver jobs and economic prosperity for all,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said he welcomed the Indigenous Development Accord and looks forward to collaboration with respect to the northern economy.

“Taking a collaborative and regional approach between Indigenous people, governments and the private sector through the Accord framework has potential to be a powerful vehicle to achieve greater Aboriginal participation in the northern economy. I look forward to the Western Australian Government collaborating with the Commonwealth and the governments of Queensland and the Northern Territory in its implementation.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said communities like Weipa on Cape York had shown how true partnerships had reaped mutual rewards.

“Rio Tinto’s Amrun bauxite mine is merely the latest development achieved in true partnership with the local Wik-Waya people delivering jobs for 400 indigenous workers and more than $1 billion for local businesses and suppliers,” Premier Palaszcuzuk said.

“We work best when we work together and these achievements are ones we can all be proud of.”

The Ministerial forum acknowledged the importance of the Indigenous Reference Group’s work to maximise Indigenous participation and enhance economic opportunity and contribution of northern Australia Indigenous businesses, individuals and communities.

Ministers agreed to extend the term of the Indigenous Reference Group until December 2020. The next steps in developing an Indigenous Commercial Research Plan and locations for Regional Collaboration Areas will be considered at the next Ministerial meeting in 2020.