While Darwin has excellent connectivity with access to established port, airport, road, rail, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure, additional investment is required to ensure that these are enhanced to support economic growth. Investment is also required to ensure that the Northern Territory’s towns and regions have the infrastructure required to unlock their potential.
The Northern Territory Government has always played an active role in the provision of significant enabling infrastructure. While much has been achieved, it is now looking to private investors to support its efforts to upgrade existing infrastructure and to create the next wave of new infrastructure needed in a thriving economy.
The government has recently announced the 99 year lease of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese partner, the Landbridge Group, and the construction by Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd of the Northern Gas Pipeline which will connect the Northern Territory to the East Coast gas grid.
In recent times the government through a Public Private Partnership has constructed a new state of the art prison.
The Northern Territory Government has a proud record of working with the private sector to deliver essential infrastructure ahead of the demand curve.
In this regard, investors considering starting major projects in the Northern Territory may need to consider investing in new enabling infrastructure, or contributing to the cost of increasing capacity of existing infrastructure, in order to support their primary investment. For example, potential investors in horticulture projects may need to consider investment in water storage or distribution infrastructure. Mining projects may need to include investment in standalone power generation because the location may not be connected to a central power network. Such investments in enabling infrastructure could be the catalyst for unlocking the economic potential of the surrounding region.
The Northern Territory Government has an indicative pipeline of prospective infrastructure projects. It is also working with the Australian Government to develop and confirm a new infrastructure project pipeline. These projects will range across roads, rail, water, electricity, ports, aviation and communications.
Major infrastructure investment proposals currently in development or procurement include the Northern Gas Pipeline Project, a rail link to Queensland, and a Marine Industry Park adjacent to the Port of Darwin.
Government is working with a number of private sector partners exploring ways to make private sector investment in infrastructure in the Northern Territory more attractive. The Northern Territory has a track record of co-investing and sharing risks with the private sector in order to get key enabling pieces of infrastructure in place, and is a willing partner where these opportunities deliver a significant public benefit.
An innovative investment partnership
The Northern Territory Government has established the Northern Territory Infrastructure Development Fund (NTIDF). This is an independent investment fund managed by Infrastructure Capital Group, an Australian infrastructure funds management firm. The NTIDF aims to attract and partner with private investors to create a self-sustaining pool of capital to be invested in economic infrastructure in the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory is investing AU$200 million in the NTIDF as the starting point to attracting up to AU$1 billion in investment, from Australian superannuation funds and other Australian and international institutional investors. There is potential for the NTIDF to be the catalyst for investment in new economic infrastructure totalling up to AU$5 billion.
The key objective of the NTIDF is to facilitate long-term investment in a diversified portfolio of infrastructure assets that will generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for all investors, and support the long-term economic growth and development of the Northern Territory through appropriate infrastructure projects.
Advantages that set the Northern Territory apart
- World class deep water natural harbour, with advanced port facilities capable of handling trade in containers, bulk materials, oil and gas shipping, naval and marine maintenance activity.
- Connection of the national rail network directly to the East Arm Wharf, with daily general freight services to and from other Australian locations and bulk freight capacity.
- Five airports capable of handling jet aircraft, with Darwin International Airport able to accommodate the full range of current aircraft.
- National highways connecting south, east and west.
- Abundant and reliable rainfall in the north of the Northern Territory, water storage adjacent to major population centres, and access to underground aquifers.
- 2500kms of gas pipelines extending throughout the Northern Territory, with a further 600kms of pipeline connecting to offshore gas reserves.
- Gas-fired electricity generation supported by an extensive transmission network.
Opportunities for investors
The range of potential investment opportunities in infrastructure includes electricity generation in major centres and remote townships, in-stream and off-stream water storage to harness seasonal flows of surplus water, road and rail links to improve access to natural resources and open up markets, and social infrastructure such as expanded health facilities and schools that will increase the capacity of the Northern Territory to support its growing population.
Darwin Marine Industry Park
Strategically located on premium waterfront land in the East Arm Logistics Precinct, the 150 hectare Marine Industry Park will establish an integrated marine services precinct that supports the defence, oil and gas, coastal barging and logistics sectors. Within easy reach of key transport nodes including the East Arm Wharf, Marine Supply Base and the AustralAsia Rail Freight Terminal the Marine Industry Park will position Darwin as a prime location for marine maintenance and servicing facilities in the region. The Marine Industry Park will drive economic growth and attract significant business and investment to the Northern Territory through delivery of land suitable for a variety of industrial and marine uses.
Rail line from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa
The Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland governments are currently investigating a rail connection from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa, which would unlock the Barkly region, provide access to the significant mining activity in North West Queensland and links into the Queensland rail system to Townsville.
Connecting mining and energy transport infrastructure
As prospective mining and energy projects develop, connecting pipeline, road, rail, power and water infrastructure will be required.