The New North: Will ScoMo's plan to build Australia work or should we damn the dams?

Australia is the driest continent on Earth – or so they say. Certainly, aside from Antarctica, it receives the least rainfall. It reminds me of a time when travelling this ‘wide, brown land’ an American uncle of mine queried a local member of the CFA as to why he was hanging around inside on such a hot dry day – weren’t there fires to put out?

“It hasn’t rained here in ten years mate” the fireman said, “there is nothing [left] to burn.”

But that isn’t the case everywhere. In the north the monsoon rains drench the continent annually. More water flows out to sea every year than is held in all the freshwater dams of Australia’s central and southern states combined. During heavy rainfall, the famous Fitzroy river alone can release a Sydney Harbour’s worth of water in just 12 hours.

How is it then that the Murray river runs dry? Why not make the red centre green with water from the north?

Obviously building Australia into its potential isn’t that simple. Setting aside environmental concerns, the Ord river scheme (the practically unused, and yet largest freshwater source in the country) in the north west proves that you need to do more than build dams to bring farmer but in saying that, Mr. Morrison has taken an innovative and necessary first step investing in the future.

What does this mean for property? Well don’t go buying up the north just yet. The main problem our northern reaches have is their remoteness, and this makes them a tough investment environment as agricultural exports require efficient freight and logistics value chains to remain viable which simply does not yet exist in these areas.

Once critical mass exists to drive these services, assuming public investment in dams gains traction, the north will have a different economic complexion based on year-round farming, local horticultural reducing the need for fresh vegetable imports.

The potential to combine tourism with high quality food, produce and develop farms and farming techniques and smooth out droughts’ impact on livestock will underpin a new property investment scenario.

If this area interests you and would like to know more about investing in northern Australia, contact Declan Haratsis via email or on 03 9600 0500.