Business bulletin - 7 September 2017


OBM calendar of events

The countdown to October Business Month (OBM) has begun, with a stellar line-up of keynote speakers and events planned across the Territory.

Packed with over 160 events, the OBM calendar includes more than 100 free business events to help Territory businesses develop, network and innovate.

Chief Executive of the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, Michael Tennant said this year’s OBM would include a whole week of innovation focused activities for the first time.

“There are keynote speakers, forums and workshops to equip digital leaders, entrepreneurs, growing and aspiring business owners with tools to create a dynamic business,” Mr Tennant said.

“Across the month there are also opportunities for the local business community to hear Territory success stories and to learn about leadership, motivation and social media marketing.”

The 2017 keynote speaker line-up includes:

  • Turia Pitt, bestselling author, mindset coach and twice ironwomen
  • Jason Dooris, CEO and founder of Atomic 212
  • Nigel Collin, entrepreneur and author of Game of Inches
  • Wayne Pearce, Australian rugby league legend and business owner
  • Peter Jackson, CEO of the Melbourne Football Club.

There are events being held across the Territory, The East Arnhem Land Business Festival will return again this year (previously Nhulunbuy Business Week) from 9 to 19 October, to support, inspire and grow the East Arnhem Land business community.

OBM platinum sponsors, National Australia Bank (NAB), will again bring the economic expertise of NAB Senior Economist, David de Garis to Alice Springs on 18 October and Darwin on 20 October.

The bi-annual 8th Indigenous Economic Development Forum is also set to be a hit and will focus on strategies, initiatives and connections to support Aboriginal economic development.

The OBM pop-up office is located at the Darwin Innovation Hub, Smith Street, Darwin until 20 October and will be open from 11am to 2pm Monday to Friday.

“Pop in and visit the team to find out how your business can utilise the space during OBM, register for an event or pick up a copy of the calendar,” Mr Tennant said.

For a full list of OBM events go to the October Business Month website or search October Business Month on Facebook.

Prawn sitting on a hand

Photo: Seafarms Group

The Northern Territory (NT) Government has reached a key project agreement with Seafarms to develop one of the world’s largest aquaculture projects.

The finalisation of the Project Development Agreement sees Seafarms Group commit to establishing its headquarters for Project Sea Dragon and the relocation of its ASX registered office to Darwin.

The first stage of the project, which will establish prawn exports from the north of Australia and will see the development of more than 1,000 hectares of production ponds at Legune in addition to breeding facilities around Darwin and processing facilities near Kununurra, has now achieved its most important approvals.

Ultimately up to 10,000 hectares of prawn production ponds will be established, as the US$1.45 billion black tiger prawn aquaculture project reaches full scale. Once it is fully-operational Project Sea Dragon expected to create around 1,500 on-going jobs.

Over the first 15 years of operation at full-scale, the project is estimated to contribute more than $19 billion to the Territory’s gross state product and will produce more than 100,000 tonnes of high quality black tiger prawns each year.

The agreement confirms the NT Government’s support of the project, along with the Australian and WA governments, by contributing the construction and upgrading of public roads.

Pending a successful financial close and all regulatory obligations being met for the first stage, the NT Government has committed:

  • $40 million to upgrade Gunn Point Road to a two lane sealed standard to the entrance of the project site at Gunn Point
  • $15 million to provide an access road to the Point Ceylon, Bynoe Harbour site
  • $17.5 million to upgrade the Keep River Plains Road. The Australian Government has committed $40 million and the WA Government $16.7 million. The upgrades will enable for all year access between Kununurra and Legune Station.

Stage 1 of the Project Sea Dragon Facility will consist of 1,180 hectares of land‐based production ponds and 324 hectares of internal recycling ponds at Legune Station, 110 kilometres north east of Kununurra.

Stage 1 also includes a broodstock maturation facility at Point Ceylon on Bynoe Harbour and hatchery facilities at Gunn Point.

Tradesman's tools

Stimulus programs, including the Home Improvement Scheme have generated $98.2 million in work for local tradies and provided an economic boost of $169.6 million to the Territory.

All homeowner applications for the Home Improvement Scheme have now been assessed and only a hundred require further information to be finalised.

Department of Trade, Business and Innovation Chief Executive Officer, Michael Tennant said there was a rush of 2,807 applications in the last 48 hours of the scheme, bringing the final tally of applications submitted between 20 February and 2 June to 8,833.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to process these applications and issue vouchers to eligible homeowners,” Mr Tennant said.

“To date 5,315 vouchers worth $14.8 million have been redeemed, which means the work has not yet been completed or the tradie hasn’t yet claimed their payment.

“For every one dollar invested by the government, homeowners have spent on average an additional two dollars and this is all money flowing through to Territory small business.

“There are still thousands of jobs to be completed, and I urge all tradies and businesses participating in the scheme to continue working with your homeowners to get the job done.”

There is also a lot of work remaining in the pipeline from the Immediate Work Grants program. 319 organisations applied to undertake around 560 jobs.

All the applications have now been assessed, 528 vouchers have been issued for works to date and further information is being followed-up to finalise assessment of the last 30 jobs.

Immediate Work Grants totalling $20.4 million have been issued to Territory community organisations and to date only $7.5 million have been redeemed.

Territorians purchasing a new home can still apply for first home owner grants.

More than $3.8 million in Home Renovation Grants have been approved for first homebuyers of an existing dwelling, generating an estimated economic impact of $7.1 million.

For more information on the support available go to the First Home Scheme website.

Rachel and Stephen Ellis of Centre Pest Management

Rachel and Stephen Ellis know that it can be hard to start a new business.

But they also know that it’s marvellous to be your own boss and that nothing beats that sense of achievement when things go well.

“You put a lot into the business, emotionally and financially,” Rachel said. “Indigenous people are often a bit frightened of going out on their own.”

The couple own Alice Springs-based Centre Pest Management with their daughter Lyndelle and son-in-law Tim Gibbons.

They wage war on all kinds of pests, particularly cockroaches, ants, spiders and mice.

“The business is doing extremely well,” Rachel said. “People are getting to know us. Brand recognition is so important.”

They started by putting flyers into letterboxes but got only a limited response.

Rachel has found that an old-fashioned marketing method - telephoning businesses, introducing herself as a Centralian and explaining what the company can do for them - works well.

The company has picked up work as far away as Barunga, 1200km north of Alice Springs.

Rachel is one of four ambassadors for the 8th Indigenous Economic Development Forum, which is a premier event staged by the Northern Territory Government during October Business Month.

The forum will be held at the Darwin Convention Centre from 23 to 24 October.

Rachel wants more Indigenous entrepreneurs to go into business.

“Be confident - go for it,” she said. “There’s a lot of support available.”

Rachel advises entrepreneurs - Indigenous and non-Indigenous - to attend the business courses run by the NT Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

“They are fantastic,” she said. “We went to several and learnt so much. And they’re free.”

The Indigenous Economic Development Forum is recognised as one of the largest Indigenous economic development events in Australia.

It provides a platform to enhance discussions held between Indigenous businesses and other stakeholders during the recent Economic Summit series and Economic Development Framework.

It will focus on building on Indigenous involvement with the developing Northern Australia agenda and providing opportunities for Indigenous companies to establish connections with other businesses.

The forum will include a business expo, giving business owners the opportunity to showcase their products and capabilities.

The theme of this year’s forum is The North is our Economic Story.

For more details on the forum and to register or become a sponsor, contact event organiser Agentur on 08 8981 2010 and email

NT Training Award finalist Bradley Lewis

NT Training Award finalist Bradley Lewis has overcome extraordinary challenges to become a sparky.

He suffers from rheumatic heart disease and has to have a penicillin injection once a month.

Brad, 21, works for Katherine-based ACDC Electrical and Communication Services.

His job often takes him to remote communities, which means he has had to arrange to have his injections at clinics across the NT including Mataranka, Bulman, Lajamanu and Minyerri.

“I’ve even had a nurse come out and give me an injection in the car park of my trade school.”

Brad is a finalist in the Austin Asche Apprentice of the Year, the most prestigious prize in the NT Training Awards.

He has worked hard to complete his Certificate III Electrotechnology Electrician apprenticeship.

The young Australian Rules footballer has attained a broad range of electrical competencies and licences working on the installation of generators, replacing switchboard systems, installing solar systems, NBN and telecommunications cabling.

He is a strong supporter of the apprenticeship system.

“It has given me the chance to gain qualifications, employment and learn valuable skills.

“My employer has been fantastic. I’ve been put through all sorts of training.

“Young people need to be given a chance to learn skills.”

Katherine-born Brad said tradies’ qualifications nowadays were a ticket to a good career and good pay.

“We’re in such high demand.”

He was 10 years old when a doctor examined him at a routine school health screening.

The doctor heard a murmur and sent him to be checked by a cardiologist.

Brad was diagnosed with severe rheumatic heart disease.

His condition has since been downgraded to moderate - mainly because he has always had his injections on time.

That means he will not need open-heart surgery.

Other finalists in the Austin Asche Apprentice of the Year are Thomas Moulds of Electric NT, whose registered training provider is Charles Darwin University; Timothy Childs of GTNT, whose registered training provider is Aurecon Australasia; and Dakota Knight of Hastings Deering whose registered training provider is Hasting Deering.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Darwin Convention Centre on 23 September.

OBM 2017, view over 160 business events in the 2017 calendar of events, register now,

Last updated: 10 July 2019

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