Gunner makes pitch to win back NT business

Labor NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner wants to win back business after a difficult few years.
Labor NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner wants to win back business after a difficult few years.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has made a pitch to business to back his Labor government ahead of next year's election despite no economic growth this year and a debt-laden budget.

A suite of major projects in natural gas, including fracking, mining and manufacturing were due to begin in the next few years and the world's largest solar farm beyond that.

Those investments would create thousands of jobs and opportunities for Territory businesses, he said.

Mr Gunner was delivering the Property Council's annual State of the Territory speech to almost 300 people, many hostile towards Labor over its performance on the economy and crime since being elected in 2016.

He named an expansion of the Darwin LNG project, Tanamai gold mine, a $400 million marine services ship lift, manufacturing projects, an outback NASA rocket project and the large Sea Dragon prawn farm as some of the major NT developments that would boost the economy.

"We really want to make sure Territory businesses are ready for those projects that are happening now and are just around the corner," he told the audience.

"You can plan now how you can take advantage of that, a lot of the work that goes into a business is planning for when that opportunity arises, it is too late to do it once the opportunity is there.

"It is critical that small businesses take their cut of this."

The NT economy has struggled in the Top End especially since the construction of the $US45 billion Inpex project ended, sparking an exodus of 10,000-plus workers, increasing empty shopfronts, criminal break-ins and a plunge in the property market.

However the three new manufacturing plants, involving Coogee Chemicals, Darwin Clean Fuels and Gold Valley Micro LNG would alone require 1500 construction and 500 permanent jobs, Mr Gunner said.

"We have energy. We have water. We are integral to the future of this nation. We are integral to the future of nations in our region and beyond," he said.

The election is less than nine months away in August with Labor facing a Country Liberal Opposition led by Gary Higgins and former Liberal chief minister and now Independent MP Terry Mills' new conservative Territory Alliance party.

Australian Associated Press