ONE of the positives to come out of the major project conference is Defence doesn’t feature.
It may sound a strange thing to say given all the talk to date has been how Defence expenditure moving forward will prove a boom for our economy, growing it by more than 5 per cent on its own.
But the Territory has never been a one-trick pony when it comes to development or major projects.
Yes we’ve had multiple gas processing plants built — the largest being the $37 billion Inpex LNG project across the harbour. However, it is the second on our harbour, albeit a monster compared to the first.
We have had a regular diet of projects in the resource sector over the years and a constant economic staple has been cattle.
The release of the Federal Government’s Defence White Paper and its commitment to spend $8 billion in the north over the next decade has been anticipated. More than one of the Territory’s top 120 Most Powerful has expressed a desire to get “in front” of the decision makers quickly.
The singular focus made me nervous having watched the unedifying spectacle of South Australia literally begging the Federal Government to build the new submarines in that state.
Without that contract SA isn’t quite a rust bucket, but it does have a brown shade. It hasn’t been able to attract real industry or major new projects which don’t have government funding like we have.
The problem with that Defence reliance is there are no guarantees on timing or expenditure. The Turnbull Government does not control the Senate and therefore to win votes it has to be flexible.
In other words exchange votes for something and Defence expenditure is ongoing and a top prize.
Defence priorities can change, especially when the politicians get involved. They are the only department with a public works committee who approves their infrastructure expenditure.
Pushed out timelines in Defence would create a major problem for the local economy if it were only one-trick, if it did not have a pipeline of major projects ahead.
Treasurer Nicole Manison delivered a broad range overview of the major projects landscape in the Territory before leaving the stage.
It is a shame she didn’t get to finish the speech because the content to that point had really hammered home the opportunities ahead.
Yes, the Inpex project recently entered the final phase of construction with the delivery of the final modules for the processing train, Ms Manison acknowledged, but the company has two new agreements to ensure local content in its 40-year operation and a 15- year extension to the Optional Development Lease.
That’s not all.
The Government is committed to a number of major projects, some which will break ground in 2017. These include the development of the $800m Northern Gas Pipeline, which Ms Manison said will create more than 900 jobs in the construction phase; Landbridge Group’s $200 million Darwin Luxury Hotel; the public/private development of a ship lift in Darwin and a Tennant Creek-Mt Isa railway.
Then, there are the privately driven projects like the $1.45 billion prawn aquaculture farm Project Sea Dragon which is expected to commence operations in 2018.
Mining company TNG has just signed an agreement with a major Korean ferrovanadium group for all vanadium products from its Mount Peake project north of Alice Springs. The project has forecasted revenue of some $27 billion over its initial 15 year life.
With projects like these we can look beyond Defence to grow our economy.
Source: Manicaros.A, 09/11/2016, Business Agenda: Northern Territory economy not a one-trick pony, NT News, <http://www.ntnews.com.au/business/business-agenda-northern-territory-economy-not-a-onetrick-pony/news-story/8e7a4dbb39ec93b22d2f46a4ed2d05f0>
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