Business bulletin - 26 May 2016

Business in the Budget

Reports with graphs 

Budget 2016-17 saw a focus on small and medium businesses, with the Northern Territory Government announcing a $20 million stimulus package to help small businesses and tradies in the building and construction sector (see story below).

Budget 2016-17 included public infrastructure spending of almost $1.7 billion, supplementing existing Boosting the Economy stimulus spending of $58.5 million for upgrades, repairs, and maintenance to government schools.

Budget 2016 will invest in the future prosperity of Territorians by realigning current training support programs as part of a Knowledge Territory package that will be expanded through future onshore gas royalties.

In 2016-17, the Knowledge Territory initiatives will incorporate:

  • $1 million to establish the Office of the Chief Scientist to provide high-level independent advice on matters relating to science and innovation
  • $1 million for the Knowledge Territory Study Voucher program that will assist eligible apprentices and trainees with the cost of work wear and other necessities in their first year
  • $600,000 for Knowledge Territory Higher Education Scholarships, and
  • $420,000 for the Knowledge Territory Cadetship program to support paid work experience with private sector employers for students during holiday breaks.

Over the next two years, $4.9million will be spent progressing the Marine Industry Park, Katherine Business Park and development projects on the Tiwi Islands, as well as $2 million for the barge landing at Wadeye to be upgraded.

Other announcements in the budget included $2 million to support Indigenous businesses and organisations, and $5.25 million (including Commonwealth funding) to establish bakeries in remote communities.

For more information on what Budget 2016-17 means for business, go to

Home Improvement Scheme

Territory tradies preparing for work 

Local businesses and tradies have jumped to register for the NT Government’s new, $20 million Home Improvement Scheme, which gives homeowner-occupiers a $2,000 voucher for work on their homes.

More than 70 tradies and small businesses have already submitted applications for the scheme, which was announced in Budget 2016-17 on Tuesday.

The voucher scheme will see home owner-occupiers receive vouchers of up to $2,000 to go towards minor home improvements, repairs and maintenance with the homeowner contributing at least the same amount.

The vouchers are only available for work undertaken using local, Territory small businesses which satisfy the definition of a Territory Enterprise at the date of Tuesday’s announcement.

Local electrician Thor Dewar, from DAS Electrical, said there was an added benefit for homeowners and local businesses.

“Often people from outside the Territory come in and do work cheaper, then the owner-occupier isn’t covered by warranties because they cut corners on installation,” he said.

“The added benefit of this scheme is that it will encourage homeowners to use local tradies who are licensed here, which is better because you’re getting registered operators.”

It is estimated the $20 million could generate as much as $67 million in direct and flow-on economic activity, providing a boost to small, construction-related businesses and sole traders over the next year.

Territory businesses with fewer than 20 employees are eligible to register now and are encouraged to do so before 1 July 2016, when Territory owner-occupiers will have access to an online one-stop-shop to get quotes for their home improvements.To register or find out more visit

Knowledge Territory: Cadetship program

Students sitting in a group viewing a laptop in front of a university 

Northern Territory students will now be able to do paid work experience in their holidays, under a new program established through the Department of Business.

The higher education cadetship program will be introduced from 2016-17 for students work with NT private sector employers during vacation breaks, as part of Budget 2016-17 Knowledge Territory initiatives, announced last week.

The Knowledge Territory initiatives aim to support science and innovation, higher education and vocational education and training, including apprenticeships and traineeships.

The NT Government will subsidise student wages for up to 12 weeks per calendar year, paying salary costs to the employer, excluding any on-costs.

Initially this program will be for students studying in industry priority areas, with a total of ten places offered to second, third and fourth year students studying a three or four year degree.

Wages rates will be based on the NT Government Administrative Officer 2 equivalent. The number of cadetships will increase once the royalties flow.

A budget of $420,000 in 2016-17, $540,000 in 2017-18 and $660,000 in 2018-19 ongoing will be required for this program and it is proposed these funds will be drawn from the Training NT grants program.

Science on the agenda

Man working with lab equipment 

The Northern Territory will have an Office of the Chief Scientist for the first time, after a million dollars was committed in Budget 2016-17 for one to be established.

The Chief Scientist will work closely with business, industry, Charles Darwin University and other research and innovation organisations.

The Office will provide high-level independent advice to the Chief Minister, Ministers and Executive Officers of government agencies on matters relating to all aspects of science and innovation.

Specifically the Chief Scientist will influence and monitor industry’s impacts and interaction with:

  • regional and remote economies in the Northern Territory
  • sustainable economic development, the environment and the community
  • innovation best practice, research and investigations
  • the Northern Australian Development agenda
  • collaboration with the Australian Government, and
  • be at the forefront of policy development guiding the Territory’s future through representation at the Forum of Australia’s Chief Scientist.

The Chief Scientist will also play a lead role influencing Commonwealth initiatives such as the National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA) and the 28 NISA initiatives, ensuring that the Northern Territory is well placed to compete for and leverage Commonwealth funding and ensuring Territory business remain productive, efficient and internationally competitive.

Budget: Tourism

Artist impression of skywalk over Nitmiluk 

The tourism industry was one of the big winners in this week’s Budget 2016-17, with spending on the sector increasing to more than $51 million.

The funding will go to Tourism NT as well as new infrastructure such as roads, upgrades to parks and investment in arts and culture. This includes a further year of additional funding of $8 million for tourism marketing and aviation initiatives.

In 2015 international and domestic visitors to the NT increased by 17% to 1.6 million visitors, with  tourism spending hitting a six year high of $2 billion.

Budget 2016 includes $20 million to build adventure tourism experiences and skywalks in Territory parks, including Nitmiluk, which attracts almost 250,000 visitors a year.

Alcoota Fossil Beds Field Station will receive $4 million to upgrade facilities and $5.25 million will be invested in capital works grants as part of the Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund.

Other Budget 2016-17 Tourism initiatives include:

  • $2 million to market and promote the Territory as a business events destination and continue the NT Business Events Ambassadors program
  • $2 million to Regional Tourist Organisations and Visitor Information Centres to continue the provision of regional marketing and visitor information services across the Territory
  • $1.5 million for ongoing tourism sponsorship with key sporting and consumer brands
  • $1.33 million over two years to develop more mountain bike trails across the Territory and help grow this niche tourism market
  • $1 million marketing activity that specifically targets working holidaymakers and backpackers
  • $500,000 for a second season of the hugely successful Million Dollar Fish competition to attract more tourists to the Top End over the low season
  • $500,000 for the continuation of free WiFi rollout at key tourism attractions across the Northern Territory
  • $250,000 to take tourism operators to key trade events both within Australia and overseas.

Budget overview - $1.7b Infrastructure, $1.52b Health services, $554m Roads, $1.2b Aboriginal affairs, $768m Community safety, $350m Remote housing, $970m Education, $99.7m Training and apprentice support, $62.2m Parks and sports 

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Last updated: 25 October 2018