Katherine only receives three of the briefest mentions in the NT Government's plans for economic recovery.
All three are brief mentions of the much-lauded but little understand agribusiness hub which is still to be built at the railway yards.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner today launched guidelines for the Territory's recovery from the pandemic called Operation Rebound.
The report has been developed to help guide a Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission.
The commission is to be - Martin Parkinson, former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Treasury; Romilly Madew, CEO of Infrastructure Australia; Gail Kelly, corporate leader, board director and former CEO of Westpac; Eytan Lenko, technology entrepreneur and CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions; Professor Mick Dodson, NT Treaty Commissioner; Paul Henderson, former Chief Minister; Gary Higgins, former Leader of the Opposition and retiring Member for Daly
Membership will be finalised next week, including the selection of co-chairs, Mr Gunner said.
One of the biggest holding back progress in Katherine, PFAS contamination, was not mentioned at all in the report's 23 pages.
With the NT's finances already in a parlous state before the arrival of coronavirus, this strategy talks up the need for outside investment rather than government spending.
There are several mentions of the need to encourage the building of new water storages in the Top End, there are Federal Government funded studies into the possibility of a dam on the Roper River and Adelaide River.
These dams would help irrigate future cotton, rice or some other broadacre crop on traditional cattle grazing country.
For tourism - "Continued positioning of the Territory by highlighting its nature-based/wide open spaces image in tourism marketing will resonate with a more cautious safety conscious domestic traveller post COVID-19."
Of course onshore gas figures high in future government plans.
"The confluence of prospective development of new sources of onshore gas and large scale solar generation create an opportunity for Darwin to become a clean energy advanced manufacturing hub centred in the Middle Arm precinct to the south of Darwin Harbour. Gas can not only be utilised to expand our LNG production capability, it can be a key industrial input for a variety of petrochemical products that can then be transformed into advanced manufactured products."
"Strategic investments in transport and processing infrastructure could further open up regions such as around Timber Creek, Katherine, the Douglas Daly, Larrimah and Ali Curung."
The centrepiece of the plan is to first establish the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission will be established.
The Commission will be responsible for providing advice to the Chief Minister and Cabinet on accelerating the Territory's economic rebound and positioning the Territory for growth, including:
- (a) creating jobs in the near term
- (b) options to attract investment, including in regions and remote communities
- (c) priorities for regulatory reform and streamlining approvals to support industry and investment
- (d) how to build on the Territory's competitive advantage and strategic location
- (e) engagement with the Australian Government, investors and trade partners.
The Commission will investigate and advise on the range of factors that could be addressed to ensure a rapid recovery takes place such as government policy reform, priority infrastructure, access to land, regulatory approvals and the availability of finance.
Team Territory will be established as a key reference group of trusted experts that understand the criticality of Operation Rebound and who understand the unique Northern Territory context.
The commission has been asked to provide an interim report by late-July, and a final report in November.
To support the work of the Commission, the Government is also establishing Team Territory.
Team Territory will comprise several business, industry and community leaders in the Northern Territory. It will be chaired by Clare Martin and Dick Guit.
The Green Paper for the Reconstruction Commission's work, Operation Rebound, can be found here.
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