(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The regional "north" of Australia has become increasingly important in policy and politics in the past decade. The 2014 Developing Northern Australia White Paper identified the untapped potential of the region given its proximity to trading partners, and the past three elections proved politically it’s not a region to take for granted. 

As such, the Coalition is unveiling their electoral spending for rural seats in the great “north”, with a promise to spend $678 million to upgrade the “outback way”: the 2720 kilometres of road that run from Queensland, through the Northern Territory to Western Australia. That’s a three-for-one northern plan.

This idea of the NT, northern WA and northern QLD being one homogenous rural "north" is not a new feature of electoral campaigning -- and neither are announcements to seal the outback way. They act as a way of appealing to an entire region.