Push for social projects boost in north

Support for some of the most isolated parts of Australia should look beyond just infrastructure and agriculture, federal parliament has been told.

Northern Australia Minister Madeleine King said the region needed to also have federal support for social projects to boost communities in the area.

In the latest update to parliament on northern Australia, Ms King said further support for housing in the region was a priority.

"Government support for the north should not be limited to resources and agriculture-based proposals, but must look further afield to smaller projects that create social infrastructure for the benefit of the wider community," she said on Tuesday.

"Many rightly worry that their communities are being left behind, as much of the prosperity generated in the north is seen to provide a much greater benefit to the big cities in the south.

"Ideas for these social infrastructure projects should come from communities in the north themselves and not be imposed on them from Canberra."

The minister said the retention of workers in the region still represented a big challenge, particularly in sectors such as mining, hospitality and tourism.

"Regions with extractive industries are also highly reliant on fly-in fly-out workforces and there is a flow-on effect for community liveability and access to amenities," she said.

The statement on northern Australia was the seventh time the annual speech was made in parliament.

Ms King used the speech to reaffirm the government's commitment to northern parts of the country, covering Queensland, the NT and WA.

"We have a responsibility to improve the lives of those living in our northern communities and to support them to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for nationally significant growth," she said.

"The northern Australia agenda presents us with one of the most significant opportunities to increase our national productivity and living standards in decades."