The key role of the Office of Northern Australia is to provide advice to the Australian Government on sustainable economic development issues in, or affecting, northern Australia, and to broker solutions to improve coordination between governments, businesses and communities.
The Office of Northern Australia was established in March 2008 and is located in the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
The Office of Northern Australia is focused on the following strategic priorities:
Awareness: building capacity for evidence-based decision making and learning from the lessons of the past.
Advocacy: engaging effectively with communities and stakeholders.
Alignment: fostering consensus and understanding of aspirations and priorities.
Joint action: establishing frameworks that support cooperative approaches to regional economic development across northern Australia.
In December 2009 the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce noted that northern Australia has a wealth of development opportunities, however:
…. strong leadership and strategic focus on the region, east to west is required to build a shared vision and establish a national path for development that is genuinely sustainable.
(Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report, p. iii)
In 2010 the Australian Government committed to implement the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures Program as an initial response to the findings and recommendations of the Taskforce. Managed and led by the Office of Northern Australia, a key initiative in the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures Program was the establishment of the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum in collaboration with the governments of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The Office of Northern Australia is located in the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Ministerial responsibility for the Office of Northern Australia lies with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP.
Key links on northern Australia and government
A key factor in promoting northern Australia is for all Australians to have more information on the north. This assists in ensuring the north is included in decision making—whether about government programs, or investment decisions, about tertiary education, the best location for research to be undertaken, or in deciding where to take the next holiday. The ONA webpages hosts a series of links to information that may help with your dealings with governments.
In 2013 the Government committed to produce a White Paper on the development of northern Australia. The White Paper is to be produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Office of Northern Australia is working with PM&C to support the Taskforce. The Taskforce will build on the discussion of key issues relating to the development of northern Australia as outlined in the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia