A new ship lift will be the largest in Northern Australia, and will position the Territory's marine industry on the national and international map, Chief Minister of the NT, Michael Gunner says.
Mr Gunner and Northern Australia Senator Matt Canavan, today confirmed the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) will invest $300 million towards the project, potentially sparking a "business boom" in Darwin.
"It is a strategic investment which will further open up the investment potential of the region, and mean more business opportunities, which means more local permanent jobs," Mr Gunner said.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the project ticks all the boxes from building economic diversification, new roles for highly skilled workers and new opportunities for NT businesses.
"The ship lift facility will be able to lift vessels of up to 5,000 tonnes, and includes four wharves and 20 hectares of hardstand area for repair, maintenance and storage of vessels, a wash down bay and paint and blast facilities," he said.
"These new facilities will broaden the city's marine maintenance and servicing abilities and create plenty of spinoff benefits for local businesses and tradies, generating around 100 direct jobs during the construction and installation phase and at least a further 187 jobs during the operational phase.
"Even more importantly, this investment will deliver an important, strategic capability to Northern Australia."
Darwin is the only functional deep water harbour in Northern Australia, according to the government - without the facility, large vessels are forced to travel nine to ten days to be serviced in elsewhere.
"The closest marine facility of a similar size to a ship lift in Darwin, is the Fremantle Port. A Darwin based facility would save around $500,000 in travel costs for Darwin vessels compared to travelling to Fremantle for maintenance," Mr Canavan said.
"Greater developments at the Darwin Port can also help open up new opportunities for manufacturing developments such as those connected to the development of the Beetaloo basin."
The new ship lift could inject $260 million into the NT economy every year.
Located at East Arm the ship lift will be capable of servicing large vessels from industries including offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling, Defence and Border Force.
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said the injection of Federal funds towards the Darwin ship lift is a giant step forward for the Northern Territory.
It meant the CLP project from over three years ago would finally get some traction.
"I am still concerned about the details of the project under the Gunner Labor Government, and am aware this is another $300 million Territorians now have to pay back over the next 28 years, and another $100 million added to the emerging debt burden." Mr Higgins said.
"This is a chance for a new industry here in the Top End, identified by a CLP Government more than three years ago, so we hope the Gunner Labor Government has got it right.
"We have been calling for a diversified economy for years, and have said private sector investment needs to be top of mind."
The NAIF loan will be made to the Northern Territory Treasury Corporation with the NT Government contributing the remaining $100 million to the project.
Construction of the ship lift is expected to start in 2021 and be operational in 2023.
A deal has been struck with the Paspaley Group - best known for its pearls - to operate the ship lift under a 10-year renewable agreement.
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