Tuesday, 18 September 2018
I rise tonight to make mention of the Facing North event here at Parliament House this week. It's a celebration of all things Territory. It's a celebration of our success, our businesses, our products and, most importantly, our people. The Territory's valuable strategic position as a gateway to Asia cannot be denied. The Territory is a key defence hub and a world renowned tourist destination. It has a rich diversity of mineral, gas, petroleum and agricultural resources—all the ingredients needed to support a sustainable economy. Unlocking the potential for northern Australia and the Northern Territory should be of critical importance to the Australian government.
Facing North is an initiative of the Territory Leadership Network, a collaborative arrangement made between the Darwin Major Business Group and the Northern Territory government. Facing North will focus on the north and forge key relationships for the future business and economic benefit to the Northern Territory and its capital of the north, Darwin, a sophisticated, professional, modern and diverse economy with very real opportunities. The structure of the Northern Territory economy is markedly different to the national economy. The Territory is a relatively small, open economy that is significantly influenced by major projects with abundant natural resources, a large public sector and a Defence presence.
The Territory economy has grown considerably over the past decade. Total gross state product has grown from $16.9 billion in 2006-07 to $23.26 billion in 2015-16 with population increasing during this period by approximately 31,000 to over 245,000 people. From 2017-18 the Territory's economic forecast is that it will continue to face the challenging conditions experienced in 2016-17 following a sustained period of record growth across many key industries as a result of the significant construction and investment associated with the Ichthys liquefied natural gas project and other resources.
As the impact of large resource based projects move beyond peak growth, GSP, business investment, construction activity, dwelling supply and demand, employment and population are all expected to remain subdued when compared to historical highs. That's why support from the Commonwealth is so critical. That's why this event in Canberra is also important to the future development of the Northern Territory. And I urge all senators and members to make sure that you do join in to the Facing North and make yourself aware of the people, the food and the companies that make the Territory a pretty special place.
Public investment is expected to play an important role in supporting economic activity over the forecast period and provide a significant contribution to economic growth, particularly in 2016-17 and 2017-18, including the Territory government's $1.75 billion infrastructure investment program in 2017-18. The Territory government's investment and the Commonwealth's large-scale defence projects are expected to be key drivers of public investment over the forecast period. It's of immense importance that the Commonwealth and Territory governments maintain a good relationship by unlocking key investment opportunities which will allow the Northern Territory to prosper.
The inaugural Facing North event was first held in September 2017 and, following its success, Facing North has become an annual event. The event showcases Darwin and the Territory. Last year's event was a success all of its own but this year's event certainly promises to be much bigger and better than ever. This year's event will showcase more than 100 businesses and organisations from around the Territory and that also includes 28 organisations of First Nations people, given nearly half the Territory land mass is Aboriginal land. And Territory parliamentarians, including the Chief Minister, Michael Gunner and Treasurer, Nicole Manison, will be there, along with my federal colleagues from the Northern Territory including Senator Nigel Scullion and also Warren Snowdon, the member for Lingiari, and Luke Gosling, the member for Solomon. On this occasion, we unite very strongly for the people and the places of northern Australia. I certainly thank the Territory government and the Darwin Major Business Group for their efforts in making such a huge event a reality. I look forward to the investment that this event will create and I remain confident of its ability to aid in bringing jobs to the Northern Territory.