A new Senate inquiry will look at the federal government's plans for Northern Australia.

Opposition spokesperson for Northern Australia Murray Watt says people in Darwin, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns believe the Northern Australia agenda has failed to meet expectations.

They do, however, see it as a vital scheme, Senator Watt says.

“Four years after its release, now is the right time to consider whether the government's Northern Australia agenda has remained on track, is achieving its objectives and whether there are improvements to be made,” he said.

“This new inquiry will help to identify what funding pathways are working well, how they can be improved and whether current programs can be refined to better develop the north.”

The Abbott government put out a white paper for developing the top half of Australia in 2015, laying out 20 years’ worth of ideas to grow Australia's north.

The effectiveness of the plan will now be assessed by a bipartisan committee, with representatives from Labor, the Coalition, One Nation and the Greens.

The inquiry is accepting submissions now, and should report back on the last sitting day of 2020.