Former NFF president and MLA chair David Crombie and ex-Elders managing director Mike Guerin have been selected to lead the bid to develop a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Northern Australia.
Applications are currently open for funding under the 17th CRC selection round, which closes at the end of June.
Under the CRC program the Australian Government provides funding to support industry-driven research partnerships between publicly-funded researchers and end-users including industry.
As reported by Beef Central recently, the proposal to secure funding for a Northern Australian focused CRC has attracted high-level support with the NT, WA and Qld Governments, the CSIRO, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and four universities already on board.
The proponents are now looking to secure much-needed commercial sector partners and investment to join the bid proposal before the end of June deadline.
Mr Crombie told the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association conference in Darwin last Friday that the CRC has to be science-based but the parties have agreed that it must have a commercial outcome.
“It is not just a science fest,” he said. “We want to get the facts right based on good science that looks at the issues that are constraining investment across the north.
“And this is about infrastructure priorities, road and rail transport hubs, ports, water management, it is about securitisation of water, flexible land use management, it is a whole range of issues where a solid fact base will lead to better public policies and better investor confidence.”
In comments to Beef Central Mr Crombie said the proposed CRC would be broader than agriculture alone, reflecting the need to take cross-sectoral approaches to unlocking constraints to northern development.
“If you put any producers together the issues they talk about will be technical issues relating to their industry, but more often than not they will be issues that are beyond their industry, it will be about transport, communication, access, markets, red tape and green tape.
“They’re the things that people are really concerned about and this northern CRC is really looking at the much broader issues.
“It is looking at what are the things that inhibit investment and interest in Northern Australia, and can we do the research to provide the answers to generate confidence.”
Mr Crombie said the mining/resource sector would also be involved in the CRC as well as the banking sector.
“Banks who lend money for investment usually like to have a good technical base or scientific base behind their decision making, so hopefully we can address some of the issues that are of concern to the lender.
“Some of those issues of course are water security and land security.”
The final name of the CRC still seems yet to be nailed down, with the original business plan referring to it as the CRC for Northern Agriculture or AgNorth CRC, reflecting the bid's strong focus on developing the agricultural sector in Northern Australia, while others including Mr Crombie have stated that it will be known as the North Australia CRC, due to the expected involvement of non-agricultural sectors in the final bid.
At this point the bidl is still in the proposal stage so it will be up to the steering committee to make the final call on such details in before the late June deadline.
Mr Crombie said he was excited to be involved in the proposal to develop a CRC focused on Northern Australia.
"This is really important, there is a hell of a lot of demand on CRC funding, we have got to put in a good submission to get up, and I can’t think of any better place to spend money on research than northern Australia.”
To see more of Beef Central's stories from the 2014 NTCA conference click here, or alternatively click on some of the headlines from our coverage of the conference and associated articles below