Northern development – Background

Australia21 invited Professor Stephen Garnett from the School for Environmental Research, Institute for Advanced Studies at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory to prepare a scoping document that addressed the following questions:

  • What are the opportunities for, and constraints on, development in Northern Australia?
  • What kind of vision for development of this area is likely to optimise the resilience of the population which lives there now and in the future as well as the resilience of the ecosystems on which that population will depend?
  • How can this vision contribute to the development of Australia as a whole?

Background Paper 1 (download here)
Garnett, ST 2008, Development of Northern Australia: Draft report to Australia21, Australia21, Canberra.

Report 1 (download here)
A New Deal for Northern Australia? Overview of Roundtable held in Darwin Monday 6th April 2009, 2009, Australia21, Canberra.

The roundtable endorsed 6 principles, which it believed should guide future development of the North and could underpin a coordinated new strategy for development of the North.

These principles are:

1. Planning for relevant development should be led more from the North than it has been.

2. Planning for the development of the North should be subject to essential institutional strengthening and new approaches to governance which should be informed by the principle of subsidiarity. This principle asserts that any matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralised authority capable of addressing that matter effectively. .

3. Planning and management in the future must acceptably involve indigenous people who have been buffeted in the past by the good intentions and often, ignorance by those in position of planning authority in the South.

4. Planning and management for Northern development should be well-informed by science and research and by an inventory of what is valuable with respect to the natural resources of Northern Australia.

5. We must nurture and manage the natural assets and values which Northern Australia offers, including its world heritage, pristine ecosystems. A new approach that seeks to build the value of the ecosystem services that these intact ecosystems can and do provide to the Australian and global community should be a central component of future development of the North.

6. Government provided services should be at least as supportive to people and communities living in the North as they are to people and communities of equivalent size and remoteness in the South.

Working Groups established

Following the meeting, Australia21 commissioned working groups to further develop ideas that emerged from the Darwin Roundtable. Some of their reports are available below

Working Group 2 Report (download here)
Webb, G & Wilson, G 2009, Science and research to support planning and management in Northern Australia: Report of working group 2, Australia21, Canberra.

Working Group 3 Report (download here)
Dale, A 2009, North Australia: A Provider of Choice for Australia’s Ecosystem Services: Report of working group 3, Australia21, Canberra.

Working Group 4 Report (download here)
Barratt, P 2009, Infrastructure for Northern Australia Interim Report of Working group 4, Australia21, Canberra.


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