image of Margaret MichaelsMargaret Michaels

Clayton Utz Partner , Darwin T +61 8 8943 2517 https://www.claytonutz.com

With 30 years working in the Northern Territory on major energy and infrastructure projects, Margaret Michaels combines a true local's knowledge with impressive legal skills and astute, practical advice.

Margaret's wide-ranging skills are highly regarded by clients and peers alike, and she's considered one of Australia's best lawyers in energy, natural resources law and construction and major projects.

With her "clear thinking" and ability to "determine which issues are important to pursue", Margaret safeguards clients' interests, while seeing and avoiding contract pitfalls.

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Expertise

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Construction and Major Projects

Northern Gas Pipeline: Joint lead partner advising the Territory Government and the NT Power and Water Corporation (PWC) in relation to the fast track three stage competitive process for the development by the private sector of this gas pipeline connecting the NT gas pipeline network to eastern gas markets, including the supporting sale and transportation agreements for PWC gas and advising and negotiating the terms of the project legislation (North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act NT 2015).

Bonaparte Gas Pipeline: Acted for PWC in relation to its foundation gas transportation agreement for this pipeline, including securing land tenure for the Bonaparte Gas Pipeline. This involved extensive negotiation with the Northern Land Council and other landowners and drafting of leases, construction lease, access agreements, easements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements as well as the development of specific project legislation addressing issues of concern for the project proponents (Bonaparte Gas Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act NT 2007). It also involved consideration of the nature of the tenure holding entity required to hold tenure on behalf of APA and PWC.

Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics: Prepared contract and tender packages for a number of large NTG infrastructure projects based on the Defence DEQMs suite. Recent projects include the State Square Art Gallery and Central Heart, Darwin and Alice Springs New Youth Justice Centres, Tiger Brennan Drive upgrade, Palmerston Regional Hospital, Alice Springs Hospital rectification and upgrade works, Wilton and Roper River crossing upgrades, and Mereenie Loop sealing. Margaret's role includes negotiation with preferred tenderers and advising DIPL on tenderers' objections to contract terms, and advising on any issues that arise during administration of the contract.

NT Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development: Preparation of template contract and RFT documentation for use in the Territory Government's landmark $2 billion 10-year remote housing program.

Northern Territory Government: Preparation of a suite of new construction contracts and associated documents based on the Defence DEQMs suite to be used across the NT government.

Northern Territory Government: Sun Cable Project: Advising the Northern Territory Government on the Project Development Agreement including tenure and structuring options associated with the Sun Cable project. Our role included advising and negotiating on native title risk and responsibilities and the special project legislation (Solar Project (Australia-Asia Power Link) (Special Provisions) Act 2022 (NT)).

PWC: Advised PWC on a broad range of procurements. Margaret's role includes drafting template and bespoke contracts, tailoring template contracts for a particular project, preparation of the remainder of the RFT package, advising on and negotiating tenderers' objections to contract conditions, preparation of agreed final contract documentation and advising on any issues that arise during administration of the contract.

PWC – ECI Contract – High Voltage Zone Substations: Prepared EOI, tender and contract documents, and negotiations with tenderers for this $150 million long-term ECI contract.

PWC/Territory Generation: Acted for PWC and TGen on a wide variety of procurements for new generation capacity and to service its gas turbines.

NTG: Jabiru Electricity Supply: Acted for the Territory on the competitive process to secure the development, ownership and operation by the private sector of new hybrid electricity generation facilities for the town of Jabiru, including the negotiation of the Project Development Agreement, land tenure over the project site, and the long-term electricity sale agreement to PWC, the electricity retailer in Jabiru.

AACo Darwin Meat Processing Facility: Acted for AACo in relation to the development of this new facility including drafting and negotiating Prepared a variety of template contracts required for the development of the new abattoir facility and advised on and negotiated changes sought by tenderers.

East Arm Port: Acting for the NT Government in two large construction disputes arising out of the development of Stages 1 and 2 of East Arm Port.

PWC – O&M for Pipeline and Gas Infrastructure Services: Drafted a bespoke operation and maintenance agreement for PWC's gas infrastructure at its power stations and PWC's gas pipelines, and the accompanying tender documents. 

See Construction and Major Projects

Energy and Resources

INPEX – Ichthys LNG Project: Acted for INPEX, the operator of this LNG project, in the early stages of the project, including negotiating the project development agreement and project legislation (Ichthys LNG Project Act 2008 (NT)) with the Territory Government, and securing tenure for the onshore facilities. This included negotiating an access regime for project onshore assets and common use areas of the site. Subsequently acted for the NT Power and Water Corporation (PWC) in negotiating commissioning and emergency gas supply agreements with INPEX.

Northern Territory Government: Sun Cable Project: Advising the Northern Territory Government on the Project Development Agreement including tenure and structuring options associated with the Sun Cable project and the special project legislation (Solar Project (Australia-Asia Power Link) (Special Provisions) Act 2022). Our role included advising and negotiating on native title risk and responsibilities.

PWC: Primary legal adviser to PWC for over 15 years including in relation to PWC's gas supply and transportation requirements and electricity regulation and infrastructure development and O&M.

PWC Statutory Restructure: Margaret was the team leader acting for PWC in respect of the 2014 statutory restructure of PWC's business into three separate GOCs. The project incorporated reviewing and recommending changes to the draft restructure legislation, a due diligence process in relation to PWC's contracts, land holdings and other assets, recommendations as to the drafting of the transfer regulations, and acting for PWC in necessary contractual negotiations.

PWC restructure of wholly owned subsidiary: Advising PWC in relation to options for the restructure of its wholly owned subsidiary, and implementing the restructure.

Northern Gas Pipeline: Joint lead partner advising the Territory Government and the NT Power and Water Corporation (PWC) in relation to the fast track three stage competitive process for the development by the private sector of this gas pipeline connecting the NT gas pipeline network to eastern gas markets, including the supporting sale and transportation agreements for PWC gas and advising and negotiating the terms of the project legislation (North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2015 (NT)).

Northern Territory Transmission gas pipelines: Negotiated various agreements in relation to the Territory's transmission pipeline network including (Greenfields Pipelines) the Bonaparte, Wickham Point Pipelines, Palm Valley spurline to Pine Gap, AACo spurline, Owen Springs Lateral, and (Existing Pipelines) Amadeus Gas Pipeline, McArthur River Gas Pipeline, and Palm Valley to Alice Springs pipelines and a number of spurlines.

Solar Projects: Acted for PWC and for Alice Springs Airport in relation to the development of solar generation plants.

Blacktip gas development/Bonaparte Gas Pipeline: Margaret acted for PWC in the negotiation of long-term gas supply and transportation arrangements for supply from the Blacktip Gas Field, including securing of land tenure over the pipeline corridor. This involved extensive negotiation with the Northern Land Council and other landowners and drafting of leases, construction lease, access agreements, easements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements as well as the development of specific project legislation addressing issues of concern for the project proponents (Bonaparte Gas Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2007(NT)). It also involved consideration of the nature of the tenure holding entity required to hold tenure on behalf of APA and PWC.

PWC – O&M for Pipeline and Gas Infrastructure Services: Drafted a bespoke operation and maintenance agreement for PWC's gas infrastructure at its power stations and PWC's gas pipelines, and the accompanying tender documents.

Darwin Port Privatisation: Lead partner acting for one of the shortlisted bidders in the competitive process for the purchase of the Darwin port assets.

See Energy and Resources

Real Estate

NT Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD): Acting for DHCD in relation to the procurement of the delivery of housing works and services in remote communities, required for the Territory Government's $1.1 billion remote housing program.

TH Group: Advising investment group Clean Agriculture & International Tourism (CAIT), owned by Vietnamese conglomerate TH Group on the purchase of Auvergne and Newry stations in the Northern Territory and Argyle Downs station in Western Australia from Consolidated Pastoral Company. This was CAIT's first investment in Australia and ranks as one of the largest investments in Australia by a Vietnamese company. The sale includes approximately 60,000 head of cattle, as well as plant and equipment on the station and was subject to regulatory approval.

Pastoral sales and purchases: Acting for sellers and buyers in respect of the sale and purchase of NT pastoral stations, including securing FIRB approval.

Blacktip gas development/Bonaparte Gas Pipeline: Margaret acted for PWC in the negotiation of long-term gas supply and transportation arrangements for supply from the Blacktip Gas Field, including securing of land tenure over the pipeline corridor.

Various NTG sponsored projects: Margaret has acted for the NTG on a wide variety of NTG facilitated private sector projects involving NTG crown land, including Larrakia Cultural Centre, Darwin Water Theme Park, Ord Stage 3, and various senior lifestyle village developments.

Darwin Port privatisation: Acted for one of the shortlisted bidders for the long-term lease of the Darwin port assets.

Larrakia Cultural Centre: Acting for the Territory in the negotiations with the proponent, Larrakia Development Corporation Pty Ltd, of the Project Development Agreement and tenure arrangements for this project.

North One (Little Mindil): Advising the proponents on this $200 million luxury hotel and apartment project in the Darwin CBD.

Leasing: Team leader for various leasing matters.

Director of National Parks: Advising in relation various matters arising from the expiry of the DNP’s lease over Jabiru town.

See Real Estate

Native Title

Blacktip gas development/Bonaparte Gas Pipeline: Margaret acted for PWC in the negotiation of long-term gas supply and transportation arrangements for supply from the Blacktip Gas Field, including securing of land tenure over the pipeline corridor.

Various infrastructure and real estate projects: Advising on issues under native title, Aboriginal land and sacred sites legislation on a wide variety of projects.

See Native Title

Agribusiness and Food

TH Group: Advising investment group Clean Agriculture & International Tourism (CAIT), owned by Vietnamese conglomerate TH Group on the purchase of Auvergne and Newry stations in the Northern Territory and Argyle Downs station in Western Australia from Consolidated Pastoral Company. This was CAIT's first investment in Australia and ranks as one of the largest invesments in Australia by a Vietnamese company. The sale includes approximately 60,000 head of cattle, as well as plant and equipment on the station and was subject to regulatory approval.

AACo Darwin Meat Processing Facility: Acted for AACo in relation to the development of this new facility including drafting and negotiating Prepared a variety of template contracts required for the development of the new abattoir facility and advised on and negotiated changes sought by tenderers.

An Vien Pastoral Holdings and Agriculture Pty Ltd: Margaret acted for the Vietnamese owners in their purchase of Vermelha Station in the Northern Territory. Vermelha Station is a significant pastoral holding and the deal included the transfer of the pastoral lease, along with 5000 head of cattle, plant and equipment and water licenses.

TFS Corporation Limited: Margaret has advised TFS Corporation on the purchase and sale of various cattle and crop stations in the Northern Territory, including Maneroo Station, Bonalbo Station and Midway Station. She has also provided advice on long-term leasing and property matters for the implementation of sandalwood growing operations at Mustang Hill Plantation.

Primary Resources Investments: Margaret advised on the purchase of a Berrimah crocodile farming operation.

Pastoral sales and purchases: Acting for sellers and buyers in respect of the sale and purchase of NT pastoral stations, including securing FIRB approval.


Tenure and Access

Northern Gas Pipeline: Joint lead partner advising the Territory Government and the NT Power and Water Corporation (PWC) in relation to the fast-track three-stage competitive process for the development by the private sector of this gas pipeline connecting the NT gas pipeline network to eastern gas markets, including the supporting sale and transportation agreements for PWC gas and advising and negotiating the terms of the project legislation (North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2015 (NT)).

Northern Gas Pipeline: Joint lead partner advising the Territory Government and PWC in relation to the fast-track three-stage competitive process for the development by the private sector of this recently completed gas pipeline, including the supporting sale and transportation agreements for PWC gas and advising and negotiating the terms of the project legislation (North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2015 (NT)).

Bonaparte Gas Pipeline: Acted for PWC in relation to its foundation gas transportation agreement for this pipeline, including securing land tenure for the Bonaparte Gas Pipeline. This involved extensive negotiation with the Northern Land Council and other landowners and drafting of leases, construction lease, access agreements, easements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements as well as the development of specific project legislation addressing issues of concern for the project proponents (Bonaparte Gas Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2007 (NT)). It also involved consideration of the nature of the tenure holding entity required to hold tenure on behalf of APA and PWC.

See Agribusiness and Food

Government Services

PWC Statutory Restructure: Margaret was the team leader acting for PWC in respect of the 2014 statutory restructure of PWC's business into three separate GOCs. The project incorporated reviewing and recommending changes to the draft restructure legislation, a due diligence process in relation to PWC's contracts, land holdings and other assets, recommendations as to the drafting of the transfer regulations, and acting for PWC in necessary contractual negotiations.

PWC restructure of wholly owned subsidiary: Advising PWC in relation to options for the restructure of its wholly owned subsidiary, and implementing the restructure.

Northern Territory Government: Preparation of a suite of new construction contracts and associated documents based on the Defence suite to be used across the NT Government.

Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Logistics: Prepared contract and tender packages for a number of large NTG infrastructure projects based on the Defence DEQMS suite. Recent projects include the State Square Art Gallery and Central Heart, Darwin and Alice Springs New Youth Justice Centres, Tiger Brennan Drive upgrade, Palmerston Regional Hospital, Alice Springs Hospital rectification and upgrade works, Wilton and Roper River crossing upgrades, and Mereenie Loop sealing. Margaret's role includes negotiation with preferred tenderers and advising DIPL on tenderers' objections to contract terms, and advising on any issues that arise during administration of the contract.

NT Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development: Preparation of template contract and RFT documentation for use in the Territory Government's landmark $2 billion 10-year remote housing program.

Northern Territory Government: Sun Cable Project: Advising the Northern Territory Government on the Project Development Agreement including tenure and structuring options associated with the Sun Cable. Our role included advising and negotiating on native title risk and responsibilities and the special project legislation (Solar Project (Australia-Asia Power Link) (Special Provisions) Act 2022 (NT)).

NT Government Competitive Processes: Acted for the NT Government on a number of competitive processes to secure the development of various facilities and infrastructure by the private sector.

Project Legislation: Advised both the NT Government and the private sector on scope and drafting of special project legislation including Bonaparte Gas Pipeline (Special Provisions) Act 2007 (NT), Ichthys LNG Project Act 2008 (NT), North East Gas Interconnector (Special Provisions) Act 2015 (NT), and Solar Project (Australia-Asia Power Link) (Special Provisions) Act 2022 (NT).

Transport Planning (NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics): Advising on various issues arising during transport planning activities.

Palmerston Regional Hospital: Advised the NT Department of Health on the development of this new hospital on a full outsourcing model.

NT Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD): Acting for DHCD in relation to the procurement of the delivery of housing works and services in remote communities, required for the Territory Government's $1.1 billion remote housing program.

See Government Services

Knowledge

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