Business bulletin - 29 June 2017

NT Defence Advocate

Man and woman standing beside a truck 

Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Margaret Staib has been appointed the Northern Territory Defence and National Security Advocate.

Ms Staib’s role will be to position the Territory to benefit from $20 billion of Defence construction projects which are planned for the NT over the next 20 years and to maximise opportunities from other Defence investments.

The Northern Territory Government is establishing a team in Canberra - to be led by Air Vice Marshal Staib - to step-up its engagement with Defence and ensure the NT capitalises on current and future Defence opportunities.

The Territory has a strong construction industry with the capacity and proven capability to deliver construction projects and supply goods and services that meet the needs of the Australian and US Defence forces.

With $20 billion in Defence construction projects planned for the Territory, and more than $1 billion of the program already contracted, US Defence is about to commence its first construction procurement.

The establishment of a Defence and National Security Advocate was a recommendation of the Brodersen review, which was undertaken to help better position the Territory to capitalise on Defence projects.

The NT Government is working in partnership with Master Builders Australia, the Australian Industry and Defence Network, the Industry Capability Network and the Chamber of Commerce to capture opportunities from the Defence presence.

Other measures being implemented to support the Territory’s bid for more Defence work includes:

  • delivering training workshops to assist local NT Defence Support businesses get ready to compete for US Defense tendered construction work
  • boosting the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation’s DefenceNT team to deliver additional strategic policy, planning and engagement functions
  • funding to support the Australian Industry Defence Network NT (AIDN NT), including $30,000 to support the recruitment of a new chief executive officer
  • funding the Industry Capability Network NT (ICN NT) to undertake a US Navy supply chain analysis to determine service and supply opportunities ($80,000)
  • developing a Defence Engagement Plan in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, ICN NT, AID NT and the Master Builder Association
  • funding AIDN NT to run specific Defence contractor training in Katherine and regional areas
  • support Territory enterprises to engage through key events including Pacific 2017.

The Territory’s economic future

Aerial view of a group of people looking up 

The Economic Development Framework (EDF) - the strategy that will guide the Northern Territory economy for the next decade - has been released after a six-month consultation process.

It outlines clear, long-term work plans.

The document, released on June 20, says the NT should play to its strengths: proximity to the fastest-growing economies in the world, abundant natural resources, tremendous tourism potential, an emerging agribusiness sector and world-class education.

Government has a key role to play - in stimulating the economy through capital works programs, forging business, political and social relationships, and investing in people - but it is the private sector that must truly drive the economy forward in a sustainable way.

And the EDF recognises that investors want certainty and transparency before investing significant funds.

The framework says the Territory has exceptional investment potential.

It acknowledges that governments can only spend so much - sustainable economic development and jobs growth relies on private sector investment and entrepreneurship.

The government wants to use its spending to leverage private investment.

It has pledged to promote the Territory as a great place to invest, and continue to chase major projects and markets for existing industry.

The government has also embraced innovation and emerging technology - Australia’s first Innovation Hub, which officially opens in the Paspalis Centre, Darwin, on 1 July, has also already attracted many hi-tech start-ups.

The economic framework was co-designed and developed with business and industry, community groups, the not-for-profit sector, Indigenous organisations and government representatives from across the Territory.

About 240 organisations and 1,590 Territorians took part in the consultation process, which included Economic Summits.

To access the document go to the Economic Development Framework website

Supporting businesses to start, run and grow

Portrait shot of Andrew Thorogood 

Andrew Thorogood is passionate about helping Northern Territory businesses grow.

As a business owner and company director for more than 20 years before becoming one of the NT Government’s dedicated band of Small Business Champions.

"I know what it’s like working long hours, seven days a week in order to make a profit and what it’s like to be unable to sleep at 3am in the morning, wondering how you are going to be able pay the bills."

Small Business Champions, which come under the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, act as 'business advocates' - offering knowledge and guidance, but also steering business owners to where they can get specialised help.

"There’s an enormous amount of help out there, if you know where to look… but if you don’t, or simply don’t have the time, then just ask us" Andrew said.

"Business owners are always flat out - sometimes they are just too busy working in the business and not on the business.

"That’s where we come in. Small Business Champions are the go-to contact and once we have a good understanding of the business, we can provide contacts to help with their specific solutions.

"We have a range of business assistance programs available which can help offset the cost of an independent professional to work with a business to help it achieve its full potential.

"A business improvement specialist can make a huge difference to a company by providing an unbiased overview of the business," Andrew said.

Small Business Champions forge strong relationships with individuals also.

"Building strong relationships with businesses is at the core of what we do," Andrew said. "We want businesses to thrive and grow. We’re on their side and we’re here to help.

"We recognise that a successful business is not only good for the owner, but also for their employees, and the broader Territory community."

"Small business owners often need advice on the economics of their trade - they have tremendous energy and great ideas, but sometimes don’t quite understand the 'numbers' of the business.

"This is a common problem," Andrew said. "We can help. After 20 years in business, I understand the numbers pretty well.

"These are critical issues, and can mean the difference between success and failure."

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.

VET study exchange

Group shot of VET exchange students 

Fifteen Territory VET students have said "ni hao" to China.

Very roughly translated, that’s "g’day" in Chinese.

They are spending two weeks in the People’s Republic of China, mainly in the east coastal province of Shandong, which has a population of 96 million and whose civilisation goes back at least 8,500 years.

They will visit a vocational college, a university and, possibly, an aged-care home.

The group will also go to a primary school in Shanghai.

The students are studying at registered training organisations BCA and GTNT, and Charles Darwin University.

Their VET studies include aged care, community services, including working with youth, and business leadership.

They are aged 19 to 53.

"It’s a great mix of people," says BCA regional training manager Kirsty Neaylon. "We’re very excited about it."

The aim of the trip is to strengthen the social, education and business links between Darwin and China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner.

It follows Ms Neaylon visiting China in October last year as part of the Education Stream of the NT-Rizhao Joint Economic Cooperation Forum.

A partnership arrangement was signed between BCA Northern Territory and Shandong Foreign Languages Vocational College in Rizhao.

The China trip is being made possible by a grant from StudyNT, which is part of the NT Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

Investment prospectus creating jobs and growth in Central Australia

Two men picking fruit from a tree 

A comprehensive Central Australian horticulture prospectus has been developed to drive new investment to the region.

The Investing in the Horticulture Growth of Central Australia prospectus is designed to support opportunities and diversification of Central Australia and to assist with trade, investment and job creation in the region.

Manager of Central Australia Horticulture Development Project Stuart Smith said "Central Australia has a unique climate, ranging from sub-tropical and arid around Alice Springs and to tropical around the Tennant Creek area.

"It is because of this climate range that niche markets for crop production can be developed. A great example of this is our current table grape production in Ti Tree and Alice Springs; they are the first fruit on the market in Australia before Christmas."

The prospectus highlights the Territory’s distinct market advantage in Australian markets as well as overseas markets with counter-seasonal opportunities to potential investors.

It also covers all the water control district in Central Australia and details local information on climate conditions, water quality and availability, potential crops, key infrastructure and topography.

"The prospectus provides a comprehensive overview of the most likely areas for horticultural investment," Mr Smith explains.

"This information can then assist investors on where they may like to start an enterprise. After that it is up to them to follow through with proper diligence before making a final investment decision.

"Central Australia has a long history of horticultural trials and commercial production whether it be melons, lettuce, vegetables, cattle feed and dates, the next step is to get people here to make it happen."

The prospectus was developed by the Central Australia Horticultural Development Project team in consultation with the Central Australia Development Office (CADO).

For more information or to read the Investing in the Horticulture Growth of Central Australia Prospects go to the Department of Primary Industry and Resources website

Think big, make it happen, Skills Employment and Careers Expo 2017

Last updated: 12 October 2017