Government expresses interest in developing Australia's north

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    As far as civil construction is concerned, the northern portion of Australia typically doesn't receive as much attention as the south.

    For one thing, the most populous cities lie further south, which hasn't driven much interest in developing the northern parts of Queensland, Western Australia (WA) and, of course, the Northern Territory (NT).

    Inciting fresh interest

    However, authorities aren't keen on leaving the north behind. In a white paper titled "Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia", the Australian government introduced a number of strategies geared toward building the region's infrastructure. Key efforts include:

    • Accessing and efficiently utilising available water resources
    • Establishing a more appealing investment environment for private enterprises
    • Opening tenders for infrastructure-related projects

    Serving as a comprehensive plan with multiple projects in the works, there's no doubt this initiative will require the expertise of water engineers, structural specialists and other such professionals.

    An overview of the north

    The north may not be a major topic of discussion in the media, but it's economy has offered promise. A green paper released by the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet noted that global interest in natural resources, for example, prompted the construction of the Ichthys Liquefied Natural Gas Project - the largest building initiative ever to take place in the Northern Territory.

    Engineers may find themselves working hard to bolster Northern Australia's infrastructure.Northern Australia is known for its unique landscape, but what about it's economy?

    About one million people in Australia call the north their home - approximately 5 per cent of the nation's population. However, it has grown 0.4 per cent more than the rest of Australia over the past decade. Most of those residing in the north inhabit northeast Queensland.

    Northern Australia also has plenty of natural resources. Bauxite, uranium, iron ore, base metals, oil and gas are just a few commodities energy and mining companies are interested in accessing.

    Challenges ahead

    Despite the fact that more than 60 per cent of Australia's total rainfall occurs in the north, a few parts are known as some of the most arid regions in the country. Lake Argyle, in Western Australia, for example, loses about a quarter of its volume every year due to evaporation.

    This presents a unique challenge to water engineers who will need to figure out how to conserve natural water season when the drier parts of the year roll around.

    In general, environmental engineers will have to apply myriad concepts in order to support infrastructure development initiatives throughout Northern Australia. All things considered, it's a diverse region, meaning one solution in Northeast Queensland may not be applicable in other parts, for example.