International affairs

Focus on Asia Pacific supporting Northern Territory growth

When you take a step back and actually have a look at what’s happening in the world, and you see what parts of the world are growing and what parts of the world are doing it tough, we are without doubt in the most vibrant part of the world, Northern Territory Treasurer, the Hon. Dave Tollner has told as CEDA audience in Darwin at the Economic and Political Overview.

“South East Asia is really emerging as one of those economically growing places. China, in particular,” he said.

“It doesn’t really matter what government is in the Northern Territory, the growth of the Northern Territory, I think this century is ensured simply because of the focus on Australia by South East Asia and China and the US.

“Last year we had the G20 here and we saw Chinese President Xi Jinping turn up…saying China was ready to embrace the world, that they’re ready to open their arms to trade.

“In Darwin we thought ‘well this is absolutely music to our ears’… because this is our neighbourhood that we work in.

“Somewhere in North Australia we have to develop an economic hub and in my view there’s no better place to do it than Darwin. 

“Darwin is perfectly strategically positioned.

“(However) to maintain…growth we have to diversify our economy and start looking around the NT for what industries we can grow and develop and see prosper.”

Mr Tollner said agribusiness provided massive potential for the territory.
“We are now the world’s busiest port in terms of live cattle trade,” he said. 

“As a government we make no apologies for…wanting trade coming through Darwin, not through Adelaide or through Melbourne or Brisbane.

“The only companies who have the ability, the financial muscle and strength to change trade routes are some of those big Asian companies.”

Mr Tollner discussed the Port of Darwin lease with Landbridge.

“The deal we have done with Landbridge is not only good financially but it’s good from a trade route strategy, it actually changes trade routes,” he said.

“Having the trade routes changed actually builds capability capacity, we can afford to invest money into a facility which gives us a whole lot of maintenance capability that in turn leads to the security of this region.

“The infrastructure that is created…is used to service defence ships and defence equipment.

“When you see the geopolitical impact this is having…we are getting much tighter with our relationships than further apart.”

Mr Tollner said in the last year Australian, American and Chinese troops all trained in the north.