Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests

Northern Australia & Land Care

Northern Australia, that region of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, provides a wealth of economic opportunities for our nation. This region is also strategically important for the vital role it plays in border protection and as an interface for broader engagement with neighbouring states.

Climate and Rainfall in Northern Australia

The climate of northern Australia, situated in the tropics at the junction of two major oceans, is subject to various influences and drivers. A reliable supply of water is essential to the development of the region and annual rainfall must be captured to provide some of that water. Predicting future rainfall is critical to development planning but, despite detailed research and analysis, predictions remain uncertain.

The Management and Use of Ancient Water in Northern Australia

Northern Australia contains three major and individually unique subterranean water systems. The sustainability of an aquifer depends on how frequently it can be recharged and there is evidence that for some aquifer recharge events occur on a timescale of millennia. The management of these systems, therefore, must address significant challenges and arrangements must be tailored to the individual aquifer characteristics. Water use is also fundamental and the needs of pastoralists, mining, heavy industry and households require different strategies. Cross-jurisdictional compliance, such as the National Water Initiative, add an additional layer of complexity.

Energising the Pilbara by Exporting Solar Power Generated Electricity to Indonesia

Continental Australia has arguably the highest potential for solar power production in the world. A recent study commissioned by the Pilbara Development Commission has inquired into the feasibility of exporting solar power from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions to Indonesia. It found that it was technologically possible, and may be commercially viable within the next decade. The project is incredibly ambitious, comparable to other major projects such as the NBN or the North-West Shelf oil and gas ventures. A solar energy venture of this scale would not, however, be unprecedented.

Urbanisation: Risks and Opportunities for Northern Australia Development

Population density in Australian cities and urban areas is intensifying. Decentralisation strategies to counter the trend present significant and wide-ranging opportunities for economic, industrial and social expansion particularly in northern Australia.

Water Resource Management in Northern Australia

There exists a public enthusiasm for the potential for northern Australia to be developed as ‘a food bowl for Asia’ or as a reliable source of drinking water for dryer southern regions. Much of northern Australia receives a high annual rainfall but this rainfall is extremely seasonal and is rarely reliable. The availability of water in norther Australia is key to the development of the region, however, the economic feasibility of water storage, reticulation and irrigation infrastructure remains under researched.

Acid Mine Drainage: The Potential for Economic and Environmental Disaster

Acid mine drainage is a relatively simple process, but it has the potential to lead to long term environmental degradation if left untreated.

Combatting Climate Change through Community Participation

Facilitating community involvement in practical efforts to mitigate and ameliorate climate change is key to ensuring the threat is widely communicated and understood at all levels.

Measuring Soil Carbon and Soil Carbon Change

There are compelling reasons to find ways to regularly and accurately measure soil carbon deep into the root zone across the full extent of cropping and pastoral lands, however, currently this remains a technological aspiration. The barriers to achieving a cost-effective solution are challenging but hopefully not insurmountable. There has been a strong commitment globally to carbon accounting and if these schemes are to be broadly successful, agriculture must be able to take advantage of, and contribute to, the economic and environmental benefits.

Zero Carbon Tourism: Opportunities for Northern Australia

Domestic and international tourists to northern Australia are showing considerable interest in community efforts to address global warming, particularly when they provide an opportunity to make a practical contribution to these projects. This may well be an environmental and economic opportunity to be further developed.

Australia’s Liquefied Natural Gas – Export Wealth and Domestic Crisis

Australia is a major player in the production and export of liquefied natural gas. So why is the country facing gas shortages and a looming domestic energy crisis?

Publication Guide

  • Associate papers are primary source assessments written by FDI associates. The assessment topics range from regional bilateral relationships and opportunities and challenges in our neighbouring countries.

  • Feature interviews are interviews conducted by an FDI Research Manager. Interview topics range from the sustainability of our planet to the improved provision of emergency food aid.

  • Normally issued in hardcopy, these represent a comprehensive study of one of FDI’s four research areas.

  • Strategic alerts are priority current intelligence items. We provide these alerts when events such as military deployments or foreign election results occur.

  • A 1500 to 3000 word, single topic assessment.

  • A number of short articles addressing current intelligence topics, issued each week.

  • A record of discussions resulting from a single, or series of, roundtable conferences.

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