Joint Select Committee head won't discount ideas

THE head of the Coalition's new committee tasked with getting more investment in northern Australia says he will not be discounting any ideas.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch was named as the head of the new Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday.

Mr Entsch, a long-time voice for the north, told APN Newsdesk the new committee would get 12 months to produce a report recommending future policies affecting the north.

It will focus on attracting investment and creating job opportunities across the sparsely-populated landscape north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

And despite some experts hitting out at plans for new dams in the north, Mr Entsch said he could promise "dams are well and truly on the agenda".

"What we're looking for is ideas and opportunities to help us develop northern Australia, and grow the potential of the region," he said.

"This is a clean slate for the north, and we'll be looking at water, energy, agriculture, even tropical health and sports."

Mr Entsch said another key issue was land tenure, with short-term leases seen as a constraint on potential large-scale agriculture.

"I'm not discounting anything; we do need to look at incentives to help people move, and other initiatives - it's not just about watering crops," he said.

He said the Coalition already received numerous submissions on the north during Opposition, but the committee would give a formal chance for people and organisations to have their say.

The committee will also look at foreign investment in the north, insurance issues, science and research opportunities and infrastructure investment.



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