Over the years there have been countless consultations, reviews and inquiries into growing the Northern Territory. Some of those have resulted in good ideas, most of which did not come to fruition. Often, the issue in the Territory is not a lack of interest by private enterprise in setting up a project. Instead, it is the complicated and time-consuming process of getting that project approved that is the problem.
The CLP is committed to jumpstarting the economy and, in the wake of COVID-19, it is time to get serious about facilitating private investment. First, we need to expedite a decision on each project currently in the pipeline. Second, we need to ensure we have a framework in place to quickly develop and evaluate new projects that present themselves in the next six months.
This requires new thinking, new determination and more efficient government processes.
Office of the Territory Coordinator
A CLP Government will create a new independent statutory office, the Office of the Territory Coordinator. Broadly defined the Territory Coordinator will have the power to:
1. Designate projects of significance to the Northern Territory;
2. Assist and facilitate proponent compliance with Territory environmental, planning and industry specific legislation;
3. Request information from government agencies;
4. Require government agencies to coordinate activities or share information;
5. Issues directions to government agencies setting or altering timelines for decisions; and
6. Consult the public, report and make recommendations on whether a project complies with applicable legislation and should proceed.
The powers, duties and responsibilities of the Territory Coordinator will be instituted in legislation and the office will be funded within the budget of the Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business and Innovation (DTBI). Responsibility for major projects will be transferred from DTBI to the Office of the Territory Coordinator.
Designation of a project of significance
The definition of a project of significant will be broad enough to encompass any project that may facilitate private investment, job creation or population growth in the Northern Territory. This will include, among other things: large-scale industrial developments, infrastructure projects (including roads, dams and energy generation), mines, natural gas production, manufacturing and others.
Project Facilitation and Reporting
The Territory Coordinator will have broad powers to require government agencies to communicate, coordinate and meet or reduce decision timelines. All too often, government agencies work within silos causing duplication, inefficiencies and delay. The Territory Coordinator will have the legislative power to cut through the bureaucracy and deliver a decision on a project in a timely and efficient manner.
Reports and recommendations will be prepared by the Territory Coordinator for Ministers and Cabinet to facilitate decision-making. While recommendations made by the Territory Coordinator will not be binding on the government, the government will need to justify failing to adopt the Coordinator’s recommendations.