10 Jun 2021

Major Projects: What you need to know about the new Commissioners appointed to win investment for the Northern Territory

By Margaret Michaels and Ruby Rayner

NT Government promises private sector proponents streamlined approvals and new opportunities for Government-facilitated major projects in the Northern Territory.

The new measures were foreshadowed by the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission Report (TERC Report), and are an integral part of the NT Government’s plan to win private investment and boost economic growth in the Territory towards the target of a $40 billion economy by 2030.

The NT Government has appointed Commissioners with key responsibilities in investment, major projects and infrastructure, and introduced a raft of reforms to fast-track certain development approvals under the proposed Statute Law Amendment (Territory Economic Reconstruction) Bill 2021, introduced on 13 May 2021 (TER Bill).

The powers and responsibilities of the new Commissioners

The roles of the new commissioners are evolving, and the NT Government has flagged it is willing to consider additional legislation to reform the Territory’s investment landscape and confer such powers on the Commissioners necessary to effectively carry out their functions.

The NT Government has established the new bodies with interim appointments and is currently recruiting to fill the roles permanently.

  • The Investment Commissioner (interim: Andrew Cowan) is responsible for co-leading the Investment Territory division within the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet and its role is to actively pursue and attract local, national and international private sector investment in key areas such as manufacturing, renewable energy and digital industries.
  • The Major Projects Commissioner (interim: Hayley Richards) will be a key link between the private sector and Government and will co-ordinate major projects (similar to other bodies such as the Coordinator-General in Queensland), will identify the legislative and other regulatory reforms required to fast-track large projects in the Northern Territory, and will chair the Land Development Corporation.
  • The Infrastructure NT Commissioner (interim: Louise McCormick) will, together with the Major Projects Commissioner, work to win projects for the Northern Territory, initially the Commissioner will oversee business cases for shovel-ready publicly-funded infrastructure projects, prioritise new projects, and develop a new Territory Infrastructure Strategy to identify the future infrastructure opportunities that will promote productivity, growth and regional sustainability in the Northern Territory.

The future for major projects and infrastructure in the Northern Territory

The TER Bill is the first of a series legislative amendments promised by NT Government and is set to be debated in the Territory Parliament in August 2021. 

We will continue to follow with interest the work of the new Commissioners and the progress of the legal and investment reforms promised to transform the Northern Territory into an internationally competitive investment market. Our Darwin team is uniquely placed to keep you informed about the progress of the reforms and to advise on new opportunities in the Territory. Watch this space!

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.