Emerging Defence industry in the Top End

The Northern Territory’s strategic importance to Defence is well documented. Industrial growth in the Territory is booming: major offshore and onshore gas and oil projects are leading the way with an anticipated investment of around $25 billion over the next few years.

22nd Jul 2011

Emerging Defence industry in the Top End

The Northern Territory’s strategic importance to Defence is well documented.
Industrial growth in the Territory is booming: major offshore and onshore gas and oil projects are leading the way with an anticipated investment of around $25 billion over the next few years.

And alongside it, a burgeoning Defence support industry is growing and aligning its capabilities to meet Defence needs, now and into the future.
Over the past decade Defence expenditure in the Northern Territory has grown by around 11.5% per annum. The number and complexity of platforms based in the NT continues to grow and provide opportunities for industry support.
With just 1% of Australia’s population, the Northern Territory is home to 10% of Australia’s permanent Defence force personnel, 70% of Australia’s Abrams Main Battle Tanks, 77% of Australia’s Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters and 70% of Australia’s Armidale Class Patrol Boats. Add to this a large number of ASLAVs, M113AS4s, Bushmasters, artillery and a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets and the picture becomes clear. Darwin Port is recognised by Defence as a key strategic location. Major Defence sites in the NT include Larrakeyah Barracks, Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin, RAAF Base Tindal, HMAS Coonawarra and the joint (US and Australia) Defence Facility Pine Gap. The Bradshaw Field Training Area, at 8700 square kilometres, is the largest in Australia and a major component of joint exercises such as Talisman Sabre.

The Northern Territory Government is actively supporting the concept that Defence platforms based in the Territory should be serviced and maintained in the Territory.
In recognition of the value of Defence to the Northern Territory economy and community, the Northern Territory Government administers a Ministry of Defence Liaison, held by the Chief Minister, the Hon Paul Henderson and a Ministry of Defence Support held by the Hon Rob Knight. These ministries ensure the Northern Territory Government maintains a focus on supporting Defence, assisting local business and growing the industry.
The Australian Industry and Defence Network – Northern Territory branch (AIDN-NT) is a key partner of the Northern Territory Government in developing the Defence support industry. In 2007 AIDN-NT and the NT Government released the Northern Territory Defence Support Industry Development Strategy. The strategy, the result of extensive consultation with Defence and industry, identifies the priorities for Government and industry for the next decade. Over the three years since the release of the strategy, AIDN-NT and the NT Government have focussed on activities which will grow local business capability, attract investment and large contracts to the NT, and develop workforce skills and infrastructure.
The primary focus of Defence support in the Northern Territory is the through life support of Defence equipment, garrison support and infrastructure projects. Like all businesses, Defence support businesses look for longer term contracts and opportunities which give them the certainty of income enabling them to invest in facilities, equipment and workforce.
The recent announcement by Defence of the awarding to General Dynamics Land Systems – Australia of the contract to deliver through life support for ASLAV, M1A1 and M88A2 fleets for a period of five years may present an opportunity for local businesses to participate in the General Dynamics’ global supply chain. General Dynamics has occupied a facility in Darwin for a number of years engaging local businesses in the support of the ASLAV fleet.
To support the ongoing development of Defence and industry into the future the NT Government has developed Stage 1 of the Defence Support Hub industrial estate near Robertson Barracks. The 53 hectare Defence Support Hub will enable prime contractors and the growing number of highly capable small businesses to cluster, align capability and deliver valuable support to Defence, in particular Army’s armoured and non-armoured vehicles and other equipment based at the barracks.
The Northern Territory Government provides financial assistance to AIDN-NT which enables it to employ an Executive Officer thereby enhancing its services to its 95 members.

Again in partnership with AIDN-NT, the Government promotes industry capability at major Defence conferences and exhibits including Land Warfare Conference and Defence + Industry Conference. The Minister for Defence Support leads a delegation of small and medium businesses to these exhibits to promote local capability and provide the opportunity to engage with Defence representatives, prime contractors and other Defence support businesses.
Northern Territory businesses need to be innovative, agile and flexible. Accustomed to operating in remote locations, whether it is supporting oil rigs in the Timor Sea or mining operations in the outback, Territorians have the skills, experience and capability easily adapted to the requirements of Defence.
The Northern Territory Defence Support Industry Awards recognise the most outstanding of these small and medium businesses. The winner of the Chief Minister’s Award which recognises the best overall contribution to the Defence support industry in 2010 was NT Medic Health Care Agency. Innovative recruitment, staff development and management by NT Medic has ensured the growth, development and retention of a workforce with the high level of skill and experience required to support Defence.
RGM Maintenance won the Minister for Defence Support Award for the most outstanding emerging Defence business in 2010. RGM’s strategic decision making has seen a growth in capability in the Northern Territory, providing integrated support in a ‘one stop shop’ and the development of satellite facilities in more remote regions in support of Defence.

The Northern Territory Defence support industry provides a valuable capability to support Defence operations in northern Australia.
For information on Defence support, oil and gas and investment opportunities in the Northern Territory contact the Business and Industry Development Division, Department of Business and Employment on 08 8999 5219.


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