Monday, May 23, 2022

$5 million for water security research in Northern Australia

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The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, Media Release, 16 November 2021

$5 million will be available between three leading Northern Australian universities for research into water security in Northern Australia.

Cattle mustering on the flood plains near the Gulf of Carpentaria North Queensland, Australia

The money from the Federal Government, through the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), is for Charles Darwin University (CDU), CQUniversity Australia (CQU) and James Cook University (JCU).

The Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia said the research will address water resource allocation governance, agricultural diversification, and water service delivery to remote and regional areas, including Indigenous communities.

“Water security is crucial to the development of Northern Australia and this research will pave the way to grow and transform existing sectors and create new ones,” Minister Littleproud said. 

“This research is about getting sustainable water supplies for the health and wellbeing of Northern communities, and for successful agriculture and aquaculture industries.”

Aerial image of the twin falls of the King George River in flood in the Northern Kimberley Region of Western Australia, looking towards the ocean showing the salt water gorge at the base of the falls which leads to the open ocean.

Special Envoy for Northern Australia, Queensland Senator Susan McDonald, said the study’s findings should be used to influence policy across all levels of government.

“The Morrison-Joyce Government is committed to building water storage to support heavy industry, tourism and agriculture, but we need cooperation at state and council level to ensure this can happen,” Senator McDonald said.

“The benefits of storing water for people, crops and livestock are enormous and this will be backed up by the cooperative study we’ve announced.”

Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said he was pleased to see JCU and CQU receive part of the funding.

“This is another example of our local universities in Townsville doing important research to benefit the North,” Mr Thompson said.

“We all know how important water security is to not only unlock economic benefits but also for the health and wellbeing of local communities.”

Water in the dry bed of the Finke River, Northern Territory – Australia.

CRCNA CEO Anne Stünzner said the investment partnership will deliver a program of works across several transformative research initiatives across the north.

“This co-investment is a vital opportunity to demonstrate that agricultural growth and environmentally healthy and sustainable eco-systems can coexist in a water context.”

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the partnership would enhance CDU’s existing research capabilities, with water infrastructure and security a key driver for developing Northern Australia.

“This exciting partnership will put the Territory at the forefront of water infrastructure and security research – and ensure a sustainable future for Northern Australia,” Professor Bowman said.

JCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the new research partnership will harness the collective knowledge of all three universities and maximise water security into the future.

“Being based in the north, all three universities share both the context and operating challenges that are unique to Northern Australia to push the boundaries of water research to help secure water supply and security to Northern Australia for years to come,” Professor Harding said.

CQU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the partnership was a strong example of institutions working together for the future sustainability of Northern Australia.

“Northern Australia makes up almost half the land mass of our vast continent, with an urgent need for new knowledge and innovative solutions across environmental, industrial and cultural dimensions,” Professor Klomp said.

Yellow Water is part of the South Alligator River floodplain within the Kakadu National Park.
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