It happens at least once a week, sometimes more often, and it usually makes me cranky. I’m listening to radio news, and someone makes a pronouncement about the future of “northern Australia”.
More often than not, the view comes from someone who lives deep in the south of our wide brown land. Might never have been here, and they’re usually pushing political, policy, commercial or environmental agendas.
These are people seeking to shape the future of my home, my region. Some ideas have merit, others are fanciful – but where is the local voice in the discussion of this much misunderstood and mythologised place called northern Australia? There are wise and articulate northerners looking to the future, but can they compete in what one leading tropical academic calls the “north-south culture wars”?
Allan Dale is Professor of Tropical Regional Development at James Cook University – and he’s a man who is deeply connected to and fond of the north. In a new book, Allan says the strong cultural divide between northern and southern Australia is something of a culture war – and we’ve got to make peace if we want to make the most of northern Australia.
Beyond the North-South Culture Wars; Reconciling Northern Australia’s Recent Past With Its Future is an eloquent exploration of widely differing visions of the north, and the conflicts and opportunities they present.
LISTEN to my interview with Allan Dale.