The government will look to update a 20-year development plan for northern Australia to pursue closer ties with India, the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan says China will remain a strong investor in the north but its strategic priorities didn’t always align with Australia.
“We shouldn’t hitch our star to one country because that elevates risk, not just from a political perspective but from an economic one, too,” Senator Canavan told The Australian.
The changes will be made this year after consultation with state and territory leaders.
A government white paper released in 2015 pointed to economic opportunities for northern Australia from a developing China.
But Senator Canavan says it now makes more sense to have a diverse range of capital flowing into the north.
He pointed to projects like the controversial Carmichael mine to be run by Indian mining giant Adani.
“India and Southeast Asia will account for more of the growth in demand for Australian resource commodities than any other region,” Senator Canavan said.
“It is essential that we establish strong trade links quickly so we are in the box seat to take advantage of this growth.”
The leasing of Darwin Port to a Chinese-government linked company in 2015 came before a federal review of foreign investment regulation.
Senator Canavan said since 2015, tensions in the South China Sea and between the United States and China had created a more volatile environment.
“[It] is a totally different playing field than what we had five years ago,” he said.
Australian Associated Press