12 August 2022
‘Deep roots’: agriculture, national security and nation-building in northern Australia
By Saba Sinai
This report offers a multidisciplinary analysis of the various components that make up and influence the vast and complex agriculture industry network in northern Australia. It examines the economic and historical underpinnings of the agriculture industry we know today; the administration, direction and implementation of agricultural policy and funding across levels of government; the many and varied demographic and cultural characteristics of the northern Australian population; and the evolution of place-based physical and digital infrastructure.
The role of infrastructure and infrastructure funding in northern Australia plays a key role in the report’s narrative, which outlines the implications for national security, economic prosperity, service delivery, social cohesion and policy implementation if prevailing arrangements aren’t reformed to a sufficient standard that addresses contemporary challenges.
The report also examines biosecurity vulnerabilities, mitigation strategies for those vulnerabilities and their strategic and national security implications, and the long-term positioning of the north of Australia as critical for future growth, prosperity and security. The focus on opportunities presented by the north’s unique nature throughout the report culminates in a set of recommendations for policymakers to take a unified and big-picture approach across a daunting array of issues and disciplines.
This report suggests:
- a unified message among all relevant stakeholder groups with awareness of the strategic role of the northern agriculture sector
- greater investment in agricultural research to grow and protect agricultural industries (prosperity is key to security)
- greater engagement of Indigenous populations, with genuine appreciation for the role of Indigenous people and their connection and knowledge of land and water as the key to unlocking potential.
- a cohesive nation-building plan.