PUBLIC response to a plan to develop northern Australia and give workers incentives to move north has been positive, the Opposition says.Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb has warned against shutting down debate on such initiatives purely for political purposes.
Last week The Daily Telegraph obtained a copy of a draft Coalition discussion paper proposing incentives and beneficial tax rates to encourage people to move to northern Australia.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott backed away from the proposals in the face of Labor ridicule, saying it certainly wasn't Coalition policy.
But yesterday Mr Robb, who chairs the Coalition's policy development committee, told parliament online poll responses, subsequent media reports and editorials showed a largely positive public reaction to the suggestions.
He said debate of initiatives that could lead to more food production, a boost to tourism and world centres of excellence must not be shut down for "crass political purposes".
"The suggestion that the Coalition will in some way take our eye off the rest of Australia by seeking informed feedback about the long-term development of the north, before taking final decisions ahead of the election, is an insult," he told the lower house.
"We won't be bullied out of publicly testing new ideas about developing our nation's full growth potential."
However he did say it was regrettable that it was an early draft of the Coalition's plans for northern Australia which found its way into the press.