Business bulletin - 20 October 2016

Economic Summit

Aerial view of Darwin CBD 

Stakeholder consultations are underway this week, signalling the start of the Economic Summit series.

"We have started the consultation phase of our economic summits and will be gathering feedback from the business community over the coming weeks," Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

"Certainty and confidence is critical to the Territory's business sector. This is all targeted at providing certainty for Territory businesses."

General Manager of Northern Australia Development and Trade, Luke Bowen said the Economic Summits would be delivered by the Northern Territory Government in partnership with independent consultants Deloitte. 

"The government has committed to consulting widely and collaboratively to develop an economic framework that will benefit all Territorians," Mr Bowen said. 

"Through a series of consultations and summits, we will bring together business, industry groups, Indigenous representative groups, the non-government sector, unions and the public sector to provide input to government on immediate actions that could be undertaken to address issues facing the Territory."

Key topics to be considered through this process include:

  • creating jobs in the economy
  • the right place to invest in infrastructure spending
  • stemming the population outflow
  • innovation in the Territory economy
  • regional growth
  • Indigenous economic engagement.

These summits will establish the necessary short, medium and long term planning that will drive and shape Territory budgets and growth plans, including next year’s Territory budget, for this term of government, over the next ten years and beyond.

The summit series will be delivered through: 

  • Commencing in November 2016 - regional forums and summits where Territory-wide and regional themes, priorities and opportunities will be developed.
  • Commencing in December 2016 - a public consultation process.
  • Commencing in March 2017 - stakeholder summits to consolidate feedback.

These ongoing discussions and consultations will culminate in an NT Economic Summit in March 2017 in which a draft NT Economic Framework will be presented for validation and endorsement by key stakeholders.

Driving infrastructure in the Roper region

Proposed site for transport and freight project 
Photo: Numbulwar

Communities of Ngukurr and Numbulwar are set to receive a major economic boost following the announcement of a $2.31 million dollar transport and freight infrastructure project.

Road transport delivers the majority of freight to Ngukurr and Numbulwar - 320km and 480km west of Katherine respectively.

Both communities will receive purpose-built facilities that include sealed heavy vehicle routes, undercover lay-down areas for loading and unloading, and dedicated parking.

Roper Gulf Regional Council secured funding needed to proceed with the ambitious project this month in partnership with Territory and Federal governments.

Director of Council and Community Services Sharon Hillen said the project meant supplies vital to the operation of both communities would no longer have to be unloaded in 'dustbowls' or 'a paddock of mud'.

"Right now, we have heavy vehicles manoeuvring into these towns without adequate heavy vehicle infrastructure, and that includes when they are unloading freight in dustbowls or a big, open paddock of mud, depending on the season," she explained.

She added that the facilities would help improve local area traffic management and safety in Ngukurr and Numbulwar, as well as open the door to more regular freight deliveries.

The project is expected to create eight full-time equivalent jobs during the construction phase as well as opportunities for new small businesses and the upskilling of locals.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Berto said it was hoped the new infrastructure would give Ngukurr and Numbulwar more opportunities to develop, and attract much-needed investment from the private and public sectors.

"These hubs will provide opportunities for Indigenous Territorians in our remote communities to learn new skills they can use to strengthen the capacity of the local workforce, but I think we will also see plenty of small businesses start up as a result of the project," he said.

The project is scheduled to be completed by November 2018.

Northern Australia Defence Summit

Soldiers disembarking from armoured truck 

Two days of high level discussions about the future of Defence in Northern Australia wrap-up today in Darwin.

High profile Defence industry executives and government officials meet to discuss future investment and business opportunities in the region at the fourth annual Northern Australia Defence Summit.

General Manager of Northern Australia Development and Trade, Luke Bowen said Northern Australia continues to establish itself as a strategic location for the Australian Defence Force and partners.

"Defence expenditure represents seven per cent of the NT economy, by attracting defence investment in our region more local businesses can participate in large projects and activities which in turn create jobs, help businesses grow and boost the economy."

The Defence Support Industry Awards, which coincide with the Defence Summit, were held last night to celebrate and recognise local businesses who work hard to support the Army, Navy and Air Force in the Northern Territory.

Katherine based business Crowhurst Engineering received the Minister for Trade, Business and Innovation’s Award for Excellence in the Defence Industry.

"This Territory business has provided products and services to Defence for the past eight years and are highly engaged within the sector, providing mechanical work on RAAF fire vehicles, earth moving equipment and other defence vehicles,"  Mr Bowen said.

"Defence work currently represents 20% of Crowhurst Engineering’s work. The business has continued to grow and evolve with the sector and recently introduced a retail outlet for industrial products not readily available in Katherine."

The winner of the Special Recognition Award in Defence industry went to Nilsen NT.

"Nilsen NT has been operating within the Northern Territory for over 25 years and takes pride in being the local tier one contractor. Previous defence work includes runway lighting for Tindal RAAF base. They are currently tendering for a range of new Defence works," Mr Bowen said.

"These awards are important in not only recognising their outstanding contribution to the sector. The awards also raise the organisations profile on a local and national stage opening the door for future projects and ensuring the growth of their business and Defence industry."

Project Sea Dragon

Tiger prawn laying on a hand 
Photo: Seafarms

Project Sea Dragon is one step closer to being reality with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Stage 1 released for public comment.

Stage 1 of the multi-million dollar aquaculture project on Legune Station consists of 1080 hectares of land-based production ponds, 324 hectares of internal recycling ponds and infrastructure that will ultimately produce 14,000 tonnes of prawns each year. 

Seafarms Group Limited Executive Director Dr Chris Mitchell said the EIS for stage 1 was lodged following a comprehensive environmental investigation of Legune Station.

"This proposal is the first step in establishing a viable new export industry that will provide significant economic and social benefits to the Northern Territory and Western Australia."

Legune Station is situated in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory, 106kms from Kununurra in Western Australia.

Dr Mitchell said the Legune Station site was specifically chosen due to its geographical isolation from existing prawn aquaculture farms, its existing agriculture land use and the absence of sensitive reef marine environments.

"Protecting the environment is a core corporate responsibility for Seafarms and we welcome the rigorous EIS process, and will address any issues raised during the public consultation period," he said.

The two-year construction period for stage 1 at Legune Station is expected to create 444 full-time construction jobs and about 300 full-time operation jobs.

At full scale of its operations Project Sea Dragon is estimated to create 700 jobs for local people on the ground at Legune station, 300 jobs at a Darwin based hatchery and breeding facilities, and 500 jobs in Kununurra.

Once complete Project Seafarm will ultimately be the world’s largest aquaculture development and at full scale will create the capacity to produce over 100,000 tonnes of black Tiger prawns a year for export.

The public have until 2 December 2016 to provide feedback and comment on Stage 1 Legune Grow-out Facility, to view the EIS go to www.ntepa.nt.gov.au/envirocomment

The man behind the HEG™

Upperbody shot of Scott Boocock 
Photo: Scott Boocock

"Don’t doubt your instincts." That’s the message from the man who put hooks on pegs and went on to achieve stunning business success.

Scott Boocock invented the HEG™, a type of washing peg with hooks to help hang clothing including dresses and underwear.

He said the idea for his invention came to him when he was hanging out the washing. 

"It was a thunderbolt! In mid-2012, I was hanging out the laundry when confronted with the prospect of my wife’s cocktail dress, thinking, ‘How do I hang the dress without leaving line marks?’."

Mr Boocock said moving from an idea to commercial reality can be hard for inventors.

"I think it’s hard for people to commercialise their ideas because ‘FACTS create brick walls’," he said.

"What I mean by this is that many people listen to all the reasons why they can’t do things instead of listening to their instincts.

"Also, another reason people don’t realise their innovation dream is that they just don’t know where to start."

Established only three years ago, HEG™ has gone on to become an international brand, exported to 18 countries. Mr Boocock credits distribution as being vital for the quick expansion of his business.

"Working with several, diverse distribution channels including grocery store chains; online sales; television home shopping networks; the media; and contracting with distribution companies that can deliver our product across the globe. 

HEGS Australia now employs a core team of seven and a manufacturing and assembly supplier workforce of over 50.

Mr Boocock recently bucked the trend of major manufacturers by moving production of HEGS from China to Australia, a move he said was possible due to a variety of factors.

"The accumulation of advanced manufacturing processes, and minimum volume purchasing  effecting our cash flow and interest.

"In addition, shipping a product from China and elsewhere overseas means we have to order large minimum volumes for shipping, which affects thereby impacting on the interest we pay.

"Waiting for the product to arrive back into Australia and the accumulation of import duties actually means the overall cost is cheaper when manufacturing on home soil.

"Lastly, yet most importantly, in Australia the government supports research, development and innovation grants - a key factor that assists our bottom line," he said.

HEG Australia has won the prestigious international Good Design Award and the Telstra South Australia Business of the Year and Start Up Award for 2015.

Mr Boocock will share his story at the OBM Business Dinner, 28 October at the Darwin Convention Centre. Tickets are $180 or $1800 for a table of ten.

There are still plenty of OBM events on between now and the end across the Territory. If you’d like to register for the Darwin Business Dinner or any other event visit go to www.obm.nt.gov.au

First home buyer purchasing an established home, to apply or view the terms and conditions, visit firsthome.nt.gov.au

Last updated: 24 October 2016