Business bulletin: 15 April 2021


Group of people eating watermelon

The Northern Territory Government is partnering with Northern Territory (NT) Farmers to find 200 workers across the nation to ensure our local farmers have the workforce they need for this year’s melon harvest.

The Territory’s melon industry is valued at $70 million with around 75,000 tonnes of valuable produce expected to be harvested this season.

Territory melons fill a critical supply window, allowing Australian consumer to buy produce 12 months of the year.

Traditionally, many of the jobs have been filled by overseas and seasonal workers but a dramatic reduction in travellers due to COVID-19 means the bulk of workers must come from within Australia this year.

Last week the Territory Government and NT Farmers launched a new campaign to find 200 workers across Australia.

The campaign includes a $200,000 business support package which will give businesses access up to $1,000 per worker, for up to 200 workers. This could include reimbursing travel cost for workers that have travelled to the Territory

The package will also fund a $480,000 loyalty bonus to help businesses retain workers. The bonus of $200 per week will be made available for people that work a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least five weeks between 12 April and 12 July 2021.

The government will also make available $65,000 to market and advertise the roles. A variety of roles will be available, including picking, packing, sorting and logistics.

Workers with licenses to operate forklifts, trucks and production machinery will be particularly sought after. Melons to be picked include seeded and seedless watermelon varieties and rock melons.

For farmers and workers to register for the program, go to the HarvestTrail website.

Healthy lemon tree

Citrus canker, a significant bacterial disease of citrus plants that was detected in the Territory in April 2018, has now been eradicated thanks to the support of the local community and industry.

Through a national cost-sharing program that ran from May 2018 to March 2021, the eradication program was critical for protecting Australia’s national citrus industry and international markets.

Nationally, the citrus industry is valued at $942 million, with exports valued at around $508 million, whilst the Australian nursery sector is valued at $2.6 billion supplying nursery stock into citrus industry and retail supply chains.

During the course of the National Citrus Canker Eradication Program, more than 270 employees worked on the eradication project supporting all elements from operations encompassing community engagement, compliance, science, and planning.

After a significant effort over three years, the Territory is now free of citrus canker.

This means that nationally, industry will continue to access important international markets and locally, our growers will be able to move plants and plant-related products interstate without additional treatments or inspections being required. This is important for ensuring our growers remain competitive and profitable.

Paul Burke, Chief Executive Officer, NT Farmers said “NT Farmers have been involved in the citrus canker response from the beginning and have been impressed by the dedication and compassion shown by the citrus canker team.”

“With the announcement of proof of freedom this will be welcomed by industry and will allow all citrus growers to get back to what they do best, growing high quality fruit. NT growers have been very patient and have actively engaged in the process.”

Work will now begin on adjusting the biosecurity arrangements back to ‘pre-citrus-canker’ times.

This will be a transitional process over the coming weeks. Once completed, all movement requirements will be lifted.

Winners of the Women's Innovation Pitch
Caption L-R: Women’s Innovation Pitch winners Rana Everett, Simona Paganetto and Associate Professor Suzanne Belton.

Bold and innovative ideas to reduce waste, improve safety in mining and construction industries and improve mental health services to young people were presented at the inaugural Women’s Innovation Pitch last week.

The Women’s Innovation Pitch is a Northern Territory (NT) Government initiative designed to encourage more women-led businesses develop and commercialise innovation in the Territory and strengthen representation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industries.

Achieving gender parity in STEM fields is an important step for increasing the Territory’s economic growth, and creating new opportunities for women.

Six Territory business women representing a diverse range of fields including healthcare, education, manufacturing, eco-sustainability and automation pitched their ideas to a panel of expert judges.

Judges were impressed by the diverse opportunities presented for the Territory and the collaborative approach embodied in all six finalist pitches.

Three winners were selected and include:

  • Simona Paganetto from I’m Plastic Free with the next phase of I’m Plastic Free, an online marketplace that connects eco-conscious consumers with ethical and sustainable products from Australian businesses
  • Rana Everett from Everett Consulting NT with a concept to manufacture critical Roll Over Protective Systems in the Territory for the mining and construction industries
  • Associate Professor Suzanne Belton from Anatomical Education with ‘Anatomical Models Get Cliterate!’ a concept to increase health literacy and sex positive communications through anatomical models and training.

The three winners will each receive a specialised placement in the Business Innovation Program, which provides a $30,000 grant, to help develop and commercialise their innovative business concept plus one-on-one professional advisory services from the NT Government’s Innovator in Residence service.

To stay connected about future opportunities and the Territory's own Women in Innovation Network, go to the Innovation website.

Paddock of solar panels

Over the next two years the Northern Territory Government will invest $2 million to advance the delivery of clean and reliable electricity to remote communities.

The Territory Government is working towards delivering a target of 50% renewables by 2030, and this includes all Aboriginal communities supplied by the Indigenous Essential Services and major regional centres.

This investment will enable government to guarantee affordable, green, stable power for locals. It will also drive demand needed for facilitate private sector led-deliver of remote power system services.

A key part of this investment is developing an open and contestable delivery framework to facilitate around $400 million of private investment in remote power system services to communities supplied by Indigenous Essential Services.

The framework aligns with the recommendations of the Territory Economic Reconstruction to transition remote power systems for 72 remote communities’ services by the Indigenous Essential Services program to renewable-based systems by 2030.

The Territory Government is proposing to undertake a two-stage competitive process to secure the delivery of renewable energy, following project assessments and community engagement.

The competitive process will focus on maximising opportunities for local industries, creating jobs for Territorians and building local skills and expertise.

Young woman on a camel

As the Territory’s official tourism awards program, the Brolga Awards recognise and encourage tourism businesses that strive for excellence in every area of their operation.

The Brolga Awards are open to tourism operators and industry suppliers with 25 business categories reflecting the broad range of tourism product throughout the Northern Territory (NT).

The Brolga’s also celebrate outstanding individuals with two categories recognising individuals who promote and support the tourism industry.

Brolga Award winners will have an opportunity to represent the NT at the Australian Tourism Awards at a gala event to be held in early 2022.

Nominations are free and as well as helpful guides and information online, Tourism NT offers operators a free assistance program to enhance their entries. Entries are due by 12pm on Thursday 9 September 2021.

The 2021 Brolga Northern Territory Tourism Awards will be held on Saturday 13 November 2021 in Darwin.

To enter or for more information on the Brolga Awards, go to the Tourism NT website.

Trailings dam in Peko mine

In a positive step for mine care and rehabilitation the Territory Government has given the tick to a revised mining management plan for the Peko Rehabilitation Project.

The Peko Rehabilitation Project is an old mine site located 14km south east of Tennant Creek and this approval will allow the processing of 3.75 million tonnes of tailings.

Tailings are the materials left over after the valuable part of the rock, eg copper, has been extracted. This is different to waste rock as tailings can be processed to produce a form of iron.

This work will remove the materials from site for a commercial outcome, whilst also reducing the environmental footprint of the mine.

The remaining product will be placed into existing storage facilities for potential reprocessing in the future.

The Peko Rehabilitation Project has been operating under a care and maintenance program since 2009.

The approved activity will reduce the volume of existing tailings onsite by approximately 70%.

The Peko mining management plan can be accessed via the mining projects page.

Last updated: 15 April 2021

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