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Development issues raised at northern forum (with pic.)
20/10/2000 12:00 AM
The Northern Australia Forum, which concluded today, provided an excellent opportunity for Western Australians to raise issues of concern to people living in northern regions, according to Regional Development Minister Hendy Cowan.
Speaking at the conclusion of the forum in the Northern Territory town of Katherine, Mr Cowan said delegates to the forum - which was chaired by Federal Minister for Regional Services Ian Macdonald and attended by more than 30 WA delegates - stressed the need for all levels of government to work together and to have a ‘northern focus’.
Mr Cowan said that among issues raised by WA at the forum were health and housing requirements in remote areas, training, upgrading telecommunications services, adequacy of transport services, fuel prices and access to land.
One area of major concern to WA delegates was taxation ‘zone rebates’.
“The general consensus was that the value of tax rebates for people living in northern areas of the State has declined markedly, in real terms, over recent years,” Mr Cowan said.
“The present level of rebates are now badly out of step with income levels for all regions.
“The WA Regional Development Council has suggested restoring the real value of the rebates to 1993 levels by increasing the nominal value of the fixed component of the rebate by around 16 per cent.”
The Northern Australia Forum followed on from the Regional Australia Summit held in Canberra 12 months ago.
“The need for a long-term commitment to regional development, at all levels of government, was emphasised at the forum,”
Mr Cowan said.
“It is also important that duplication between Governments is minimised and this can best be achieved by making sure there are workable structures in place.
“The establishment of a Northern Ministerial Council would be a positive step in this process.
“Face-to-face meetings such as the Katherine forum help to break down the barriers and allow community representatives to have a direct line to Federal decision-makers and to work through some of the areas of concern.”
Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595
Some of the WA delegates to the Northern Australia Forum.
Deputy Premier Cowan inspects a Hornet aircraft at the Tyndal airbase during the Katherine meeting.