Interim Chair appointed to Developing Northern Australia CRC

The Australian Government progressed the agenda for developing the north today, appointing Richmond Shire Mayor, Mr John Wharton AM, as the interim Chair for the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Developing Northern Australia.

Congratulating Mr Wharton on his appointment, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said establishing the new CRC was a key element of the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

Member for Durack Melissa Price welcomed the appointment and said Mr Wharton was familiar with the challenges of doing business in the north.

“Mr Wharton has a long history of leadership in local and regional development issues in the north and brings a wealth of practical experience to the position,” MS Price said.

As the interim Chair, Mr Wharton will consult extensively with stakeholders to set the direction and research agenda for the CRC, which is expected to commence in early 2016.

“I encourage businesses in Durack to participant in discussions and engage with the CRC to ensure its work provides benefits for our region,” Ms Price said.

“The Australian Government is investing $75 million in this industry-led CRC to assist businesses, governments and researchers to work together to identify opportunities for business and growth in the north,” Mr Pyne said.

“Mr Wharton is well placed to lead the establishment of this CRC. He brings to the role extensive experience in regional development and primary production, and he has strong links to the north as a long serving local government member.”

Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg said the CRC would be located in northern Australia and focus initially on areas where the north has particular strength, for instance in agriculture or tropical health.

“The north has particular strengths in areas such as agriculture and tropical health, among others. With Asia's burgeoning middle class on its doorstep, significant opportunities exist to commercialise research and development and establish new industries in these fields,” Frydenberg said.

The CRC will build on existing research, expertise and networks to quickly identify areas where collaborative research can deliver real-world outcomes of benefit to industries in northern Australia.

The CRC will form a consortium of partners, drawing from northern industry, the research community, government jurisdictions and international organisations.

The CRC will also work closely with the Industry Growth Centres, sharing knowledge, experience and resources to improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of northern Australia’s industries.