Business bulletin - 13 July 2017

Construction begins on Northern Gas Pipeline

Crane lifting pipework 

Jemena’s $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline has reached another key milestone with construction of the pipeline formally beginning. 

A ceremony was held near Tennant Creek yesterday to mark the occasion.

The Northern Gas Pipeline is a private sector led project of national significance and will deliver significant economic benefits to the Territory and Australia.

Jemena will own and operate the Northern Gas Pipeline.

The gas pipeline connects the Northern Territory to the Eastern Gas Pipeline Grid providing market access, enhancing the Northern Territory’s energy security and delivering gas to the Eastern states.

Construction of the pipeline, which is due to be completed next year, will create more than 900 jobs during construction, of which more than 600 are expected to be filled by Territorians.

Jemena Managing Director Paul Adams said the support of the local community has been crucial since Jemena was awarded the contract to build and operate the Northern Gas Pipeline by the Northern Territory Government in late 2015.

"We’ve worked closely with the communities - including Traditional Owners - surrounding the pipeline route throughout the planning phase, having relied on their expertise and local knowledge as we completed key regulatory and other approval processes.

"Pleasingly, 58 graduates of the Jemena Project Ready Training Program - which provides full time training and development opportunities for Aboriginal people - have the opportunity to take up full time-employment during construction of the Northern Gas Pipeline."

There will be ongoing maintenance and operations teams based in Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.

Jemena estimates that about half of the 200 contracts available from the NGP could be delivered by Territory businesses.

The SME Business Investment Fund is also helping to build local capacity, giving them a better opportunity to secure contracts on the project by providing access to business planning, advice on improving tendering processes and mentoring.

First gas on the Northern Gas Pipeline is expected to flow in late 2018. 

Meet Katherine’s Small Business Champions

Headshots of Katherine Small Business Champions 

Ken Orwell and Jess Powter have work patches the size of some countries.

They are both Small Business Champions based in Katherine.

Ken’s patch stretches south-east to Borroloola, a six and a half hour drive, and east to Numbulwar, about the same pending road conditions.

Jess covers as far as Lajamanu, which is only 560 kilometres south-west but takes more than six hours to reach, and out to the Western Australia border.

They work for the Northern Territory (NT) Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

Their job is to assist small business, especially how they can access help from the NT and Australian governments.

Ken and Jess both understand the challenges business owners face, including the need for liquid cash flow, recruiting and retaining good staff, complying with workplace rules and putting in long hours.

They also know that business people in their patches have a massive additional challenge: the tyranny of distance.

"Just the logistics of running a business in a remote part of the Territory are tough," says Ken. "For instance, when there’s only one transport a week in and out of your community, how much do you stock?"

He loves helping small business owners, many of them Indigenous.

"Small Business Champions are really conduits - we give advice but also tell people where they can get help. And you’d be surprised how much help is out there waiting for them.

"I often say to business people, 'If I am unable to provide you with the assistance you require I can definitely put you in touch with a government department that can'. 'It’s great being able to help businesses in whatever way possible'."

Jess has a strong business background.

She worked for a large retailer for 12 years, five of them setting up a chain of stores in Ireland.

Jess loves her job as Small Business Champion.

"I like meeting the diverse range of people - everyone from someone who has an idea for a business to someone who runs a successful business but needs a bit of help. I also like the diverse range of businesses I deal with.

“It‘s great being able to help business people. There are so many ways in which they can get help from the NT Government.

"And, believe it or not, I love the travelling."

If you would like to discuss ways to improve the profitability, sustainability or capability of your business, contact the Small Business Champions team on (08) 8999 5479.

Apprentices step up to the challenge

Man working on house pad 

WTD Constructions ongoing commitment to vocational, education and training has helped a third of their workforce undertake apprenticeships. 

The Darwin based company began in 1996 and has grown to employ a workforce of 16, including project managers, safety advisors, certified builders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and administration staff. 

Last year the company reviewed its training program and identified several areas where they could better support their employees.

WTD Constructions Business Development Officer Wendy Shelton said, "We had a number of long term employees that had numerous skills but not gained official qualifications, so we offered them the opportunity and support to step up and gain qualifications.

"The five apprentices range in age from 25 to 48, several of them were able to gain prior recognition for current skills.

"In fact we have a father and son both completing their carpentry apprenticeship and there is rivalry present," she said.

Over the last 20 years the company has worked throughout the Territory. One of its main focuses has been local development, business growth, employment and partnerships with aboriginal people and businesses.

This includes a strategy to employ and retain aboriginal employees beyond a project in their community. The company also flies remote staff to Darwin to receive training.

"As our current group of apprentices gain confidence in their training, WTD can demonstrate to local communities the benefits of gaining formal qualifications and know the company is prepared to support them."

WTD Constructions have been named Small Employer of the Year finalist for the 2017 NT Training Awards.

It is also their first time as a NT Training Awards finalist.

"We are very proud of this group of employees who have stepped up to this challenge. They have really grabbed hold of this opportunity and all of our tradies have gotten behind them," Ms Shelton said.

"We have also seen a lift in company pride and the group are extremely proud the company has taken the time and made a commitment to advancing their training."

View the full list of 2017 NT Training Award Finalists.

Celebrating great customer service

Shot of Leanne Leerson holding her Customer Service Award 

Going the extra mile for their customers is second nature for Alice Springs business, Fox Furniture.

Over the past 20 years the family business have developed a reputation for delivering the best customer service in town.

Whether it’s loading furniture onto a camel truck headed to Broome or taking a two hour drive to deliver a lounge suite, Fox Furniture always makes sure their customers get the best possible experience.

Business Owner Leanne Leerson said customers are essential for every business to thrive and grow. 

"Prior to internet shopping, Alice Springs businesses had the luxury of being located 1,500 kilometres from larger stores based in capital cities.

"Investing in great customer service has really helped the business expand over the years, even through challenging economic climates.

"Having great customer service also encourages people to shop locally, which then benefits the whole Alice community. Centralians really get behind businesses who do the right thing by people."

The Chamber of Commerce Alice Springs Customer Service Awards were held last month.

The awards recognise positive and hardworking individuals and businesses for their achievements in delivering good customer service in the Territory. Nominations came from clients or customers who had received outstanding customer service.

Fox Furniture were awarded Best Business.

"We are truly honoured that customers took the time out of their busy days to nominate the shop," Ms Leerson said.

"We are humbled by the ongoing support of the Alice Springs community over the past 22 years and are planning an event to celebrate with our loyal customers."

  • Best Business - Fox Furniture
  • Best Not-for-Profit - DASA
  • Best Government Department - Central Australia Health Services
  • Best Emerging Business - PK’s Crash Repairs
  • Best Individual - Loraine Dalwood

Student ambassadors make the grade at national conference

Group shot of StudyNT student ambassadors 

StudyNT student ambassadors put their text books aside last week to showcase what makes the Territory a great place to study, live and work. 

Five student ambassadors travelled to Canberra to attend the Council of International Students Australia (CISA).

The conference attracts around 250 delegates from universities, VET colleges and English language schools throughout Australia; it’s a great opportunity for international students, stakeholders and government bodies to gather, share their options and goals.

The ambassadors shared their experiences of studying in the top end with other delegates and promoted international education and training in the Northern Territory (NT).

Student Ambassador Manfred Mletsin, who is studying at BCA National Training Group in Parap was also elected to the CISA executive. He will hold the position of National VET / TAFE Officer for the next 12 months.

Economic Development Officer, Judith Dixon travelled with the team and said the appointment of Manfred is great news for international education and training in the Territory.

"Having Manfred on the CISA executive will give the NT members a voice and avenue to address their concerns an issues."

The StudyNT Team were also awarded Champions of CISA award for their mentoring of student leaders.

"Student ambassadors play an important role in promoting international education in the Territory and have done a fantastic job raising our profile."

"Even though we had a small team we still made a big impact, everyone at the conference left knowing all about studying and living in the NT."

First Home Buyer, visit firsthome.nt.gov.au to find out more

Last updated: 12 October 2017