Business bulletin - 30 November 2017


Space technology

East Arnhem Land is on track to become the home of innovative space launch technology in Australia with a new project given approval by Traditional Owners and the Northern Land Council.

Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) has been granted a 40 year sub-lease from the Gumatj Corporation for a parcel of Gumatj’s larger lease area, which is adjacent to the Garma site and Gulkula mine near Nhulunbuy.

ELA Chief Executive Officer Scott Wallis said the company plans to use launch vehicle technologies to provide access to space for commercial, research and government organisations.

“This project will provide a competitive alternative to large launch complexes, both in terms of infrastructure and associated launch costs,” Mr Wallis said.

“It could also support and complement recent Australian space developments and ventures in small satellite manufacturing and space environmental testing, and support increased access to the space environment and the benefits it provides to the Australian economy.”

Approval from Traditional Owners, the Northern Land Council and the Australian Government for the head lease to Gumatj, which enables the sub-lease to ELA, is the first step towards launches commencing in late 2018.

“Gumatj, Developing East Arnhem Limited and Northern Territory Government have all been instrumental in supporting this project, recognising its benefits and backing our proposal to be the first commercial space centre in Australia,” Mr Wallis said.

Gumatj Chief Executive Officer Klaus Helms said the partnership with ELA provided another opportunity for Gumatj to diversify its business operations and expand opportunities for local employment.

“This space centre is an opportunity for Gumatj and residents of East Arnhem Land to be at the forefront of developing a new industry for Australia, which will see long-term benefits for our region,” he said.

“Projects like this are important for showing that Aboriginal people and Aboriginal land are open for business.

“With support from the Northern Land Council, we have been able to agree to a commercial arrangement that meets the needs of mainstream business, as well as those of Traditional Owners and local Aboriginal communities.”

Gumatj Deputy Chairman Djawa Yunupingu added, “The Gumatj people are excited to work with ELA on this new project, on our land.”

The economic benefit to the region of the project is expected to be over $100 million, and has the potential to create approximately 35 jobs during construction period and 32 full-time equivalent jobs once operational.

Not-for-profit economic development organisation Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL) said the project fitted its model to expand new industries in the region with the potential to create jobs.

“We have been working side by side with ELA, Gumatj and the NT Government for over two and a half years now,” DEAL Chief Executive Officer Carley Scott said.

DEAL is leading a project facilitation agreement signed by all parties including ELA, Gumatj and NT Government to deliver the Arnhem Space Centre.

“This agreement outlines a framework for the NT Government and stakeholders to work together to facilitate development of the project and maximise its economic and community benefits,” Ms Scott said.

The NT Government signed a memorandum of understanding between the governments of South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to support the growth of the Australian Space Industry at the 68th International Austronautical Congress in Adelaide earlier this year.

“It is clear that the NT Government understands the importance of the growing space industry and the potential for this project to provide opportunities in the Northern Territory and East Arnhem Land,” Ms Scott said.

The project will provide training and education, support job creation, drive innovation and development of new technologies, and attract new investment to the region.

“The Northern Territory has the potential to become a focal point for space industry development within Australia, based on our competitive advantages including a geographical location close to the equator,” Ms Scott said

Pending further regulatory processes and environmental assessment, ELA expects to start construction of the Arnhem Space Centre early next year, with the first launch expected at the end of 2018.

The NT Government will work closely with the Australian Government on the important space and aviation regulatory processes required to ensure the Arnhem Space Centre operates safety for the benefit of the region.

Space industry development complements the NT’s existing growth sectors of defence, agribusiness, energy and minerals, and tourism. Globally the space industry is worth around $300 billion.

Northern Territory Government stand at the Northern Australia Investment Forum

The Northern Territory’s investment potential has been showcased to an international audience.

More than 500 delegates, including international investors attended the second Northern Australia Investment Forum in Cairns last week.

High-level investors were presented with projects, opportunities and information about investing in Northern Australia across agribusiness and food, resources and energy and tourism infrastructure.

The Northern Territory has some of the most compelling and attractive major project investment opportunities in Australia and its location delivers strategic advantages for investors looking to service Asia.

The forum provided an opportunity for top tier international companies to meet with proponents which have projects in the Northern Territory plus key private sector, community and government representatives.

Some of the Territory’s major investment projects on show included:

  • Seafarms - US$1.45 billion dollar aquaculture project, Project Sea Dragon at Legune Station
  • Verdant Minerals - Amaroo phosphate project near Tennant Creek
  • Arafura Resources - rare earths, phosphate and uranium project near Alice Springs
  • PNX Metals - zinc-gold-silver project at Hayes Creek, south-east of Darwin
  • Energy Renaissance’s plans for a $100 million lithium battery manufacturing plant at East Arm on the outskirts of Darwin, and
  • tourism and agricultural potential on the Tiwi Islands.

The Territory’s fresh produce was also on the menu with delegates served fresh calypso mangoes from Perfection Fresh in Katherine and preserved mango products by Crazy Acres Farms in Berry Springs.

Team NT delegation met with investors from around the world, in particular from China and Japan, to discuss investment opportunities across the Northern Territory and promote the NT as a prospective and strategically positioned long-term investment destination.

The first forum, held in Darwin two years ago led to significant investments in Northern Australia with similar results expected from this year’s event.

Geoff McGill and Bill Murphy viewing newly installed chiller and freezer

Supermarket owners Geoff and Susan McGill decided to make a big investment in new freezer and chiller cabinets for a simple reason - their power bills were crippling.

They removed 11 standalone refrigerated display cabinets at the IGA store in Smith Street West, Darwin City, and replaced them with two state-of-the-art six-door chillers and a six-door freezer.

The upgrade was supported through a grant from the Northern Territory Government’s Smarter Business Solutions program.

“We knew we had to invest for our future” said Geoff.

“But the Smarter Business Solution grant was a massive help. I can’t tell you how much it eased the pain.”

Small business champion and ex-electrician Bill Murphy, who works for the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, visited IGA to assess the business’s energy saving initiative.

Bill logged the energy consumption of the old refrigerated cabinets and estimated the financial savings using the new chiller and freezer’s power specifications.

“He told me that he’d never seen such a good case for help under the program,” Geoff said. “He was very helpful and efficient.”

Bill predicted that the supermarket would save about $35,000 a year in power bills by investing in new cabinets.

Geoff and Susan were delighted.

But, in fact, that turned out to be an underestimate - the actual saving is likely to be at least $40,000 a year.

The old standalone chillers and freezer cabinets generated heat inside the store, which meant IGA had to run five air-conditioners to keep the store cool.

The improved efficiency and redirection of heat from the new cabinets outside means only two to three air-conditioners are now needed to cool the store.

Bill and his team carry out workplace assessments on the spot when feasible but can assess through photographs and email for some of the more remote jobs, such as cattle station boreholes.

“We try to make the best estimate on potential savings. We’re very honest about it, we’re not selling anything, we just want to give the business good advice and a second opinion about their investment,” Bill said.

If you would like to discuss ways to improve the profitability, sustainability or capability of your business, contact our small business champions team on 08 8999 5479.

Architects drawings of a house

Community housing providers are being given the opportunity to build and manage new properties in Darwin, Palmerston and Alice Springs.

Proposals are currently being sought from non-government organisations to deliver both the construction and management of new premises for community housing purposes.

Department of Housing and Community Development Chief Executive Officer Jamie Chalker said community housing providers may wish to partner with the construction industry to create speciality dwellings to cater for the needs of Territorians. This includes supported accommodation, social housing and disability accommodation.

“Community housing is a form of social housing delivered by non-government organisations, and is common in jurisdictions throughout Australia,” Mr Chalker said.

“It is not public housing. Rather, community housing is managed by not-for-profit organisations that can deliver tailored support services for tenants.

“Community housing providers are able to provide great wrap around services to tenants,” he said.

Three sites are up for development.

27-33 Young Crescent, Alawa currently has four three-bedroom properties across four adjoining lots. These properties will need to be demolished prior to construction.

2 Belyuen Road, Rosebery and 20 Nicker Crescent, Gillen are both vacant land lots.

The department expects this project will stimulate the local economy and construction industry through the construction of up to 26 dwellings, across these three locations.

The request for proposal is now open and to access it go to Quotations and Tenders Online. Applications close 2 February 2018.

It’s also currently developing a community housing strategy which will inform the transfer of 750 dwellings to the community housing sector. While it complements the strategy, this project does not affect it. Instead, it is designed to give an immediate injection into the construction industry while that strategy is being developed.

For further information, email or go to

Northern Territory delegations in India

The Northern Territory is tapping into one of the greatest potential pools of overseas students in the world - India.

A five-strong delegation spent a week in the subcontinent promoting the NT as a ‘destination’ for world-class education.

The Territorians met about 60 agents and training providers in Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur.

They not only discussed opportunities for Indian students to come to the NT, but also Territory training experts running courses in India.

Territory training providers are in talks to form a consortium to take training overseas.

Kirsty Neaylon, northern Australia training manager for BCA National Training Group, said the potential for a partnership with India was 'huge'.

Many Indians are already studying in the NT, particularly at Charles Darwin University.

But there is room for massive expansion in a country of more than one billion people - 50 times more than Australia.

Ms Neaylon said Indians were mainly interested in business and management courses, but also asked about sports and community services.

There were also discussions about the possibility of student exchange - Territorians studying in India and Indians studying in the NT.

Other members of the delegation included Alana Anderson of Alana Kaye Training and specialists from the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

They all promoted the NT as having first-class education in a friendly, multiracial and attractive city with good connections to India through Singapore.

For more information on international education and studying in the NT go to

Innovation grants now open, apply now, visit

Last updated: 11 August 2020

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