Business bulletin: 27 August 2019


HMS Adelaide in Darwin harbour

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) special report Strong and free - the future security of Australia's north was launched earlier this month in Canberra.

ASPI is Australia's pre-eminent independent think tank, and has a global reputation for producing high-quality reports such as Strong and free.

The report makes an important contribution to the policy discussions and public debate about the widening gap between stated strategic policy, and Defence's actual activities and presence in the north which, as the report highlights, have been declining over past years.

The report found there is a need to reconceptualise northern Australia as a single scalable Defence and national security ecosystem to deliver integrated support to current and future Australian Defence Force and national security capabilities, exercises and operation support.

Strong local industry, both in construction and sustainment, is critical to supporting Defence capability and resilience in the area where Defence operates.

These needs will change as new platforms come into service, and the Territory Government is working with Defence and industry to grow the capability and capacity of local businesses to continue to meet Defence's needs today and into the future.

The Territory's economy and industry will only strengthen and grow if governments and industry partner to ensure local businesses have the opportunity to participate in this growth to the fullest extent.

The Territory is making significant investments in infrastructure to support Australia's Defence capabilities, including our goal of being a regional maritime hub for sustainment and maintenance. The recently announced ship lift will be a critical part of this infrastructure.

To view the full report, go to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute website.

Hacker working on a laptop

The Territory Government is hosting free briefings for the business sector on cyber security with a focus on supporting Territory businesses to get Defence ready and to protect against cyber fraud.

The sessions will be held in Darwin on 11 September and include:

Defence and cyber ready briefing: 1:30pm to 5pm

Businesses that supply or intend to supply to Defence are encouraged to attend the Defence and cyber ready briefing to receive a Defence industry update from the Northern Territory (NT) Defence and National Security Advocate Marg Staib AM, CSC and be informed of specific security and cyber requirements for supplying to defence.

The session also includes advice on the Defence Industry Security Program reforms, a briefing from the Australian Cyber Security Centre on current cyber threats and a prime contractor panel discussion on local defence supply requirements.

You’ll hear from an ethical hacker paid to break into an organisation’s buildings and computer systems to test cyber and physical security, explain why businesses of all types are targeted, from the single operator to large organisations. This presentation will highlight the value of your commercial information and your potential vulnerabilities.

This is a unique opportunity to hear from a leading expert that presents at international cyber conferences.

Cyber smart for business briefing: 11am to 12:30pm

The cyber smart for business briefing will provide information on key cyber threats and protections you can apply to better protect your business, particularly from invoice fraud or business email compromise. This is the most significant cybercrime affecting Territory businesses and organisations, with NT Police reporting an average loss per victim of $70,000. Business email compromise can involve impersonated emails and fraudulent invoices to divert business payments to cybercriminals and data breaches of commercially sensitive information. Attend to hear how to better protect your business.

To register go to the Be Cyber Smart website.

Members of project team

The Territory is part of move to establish northern Australia’s own spice trail with plans to grow a new condiment industry part of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project.

The $1.2 million spice cropping project will see five crops taken from small to large-scale production within three years, under the leadership of Dr Surya Bhattarai from Central Queensland University (CQU).

The project team also includes:

  • seed and crop experts from Agriventis Technologies
  • irrigation and agronomist specialists from the Burdekin-Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee
  • economic development experts from the Rockhampton Regional Council
  • agronomists from the NT Department of Primary Industry Resources
  • Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
  • six growers from across northern Queensland.

CQU’s Dr Bhattarai said the team would initially run small trials of cumin, fennel, kalonji, caraway and black sesame crops, after earlier glasshouse trials showed they had strong potential for inclusion in broadacre crop rotations.

“These small trials will be across several different locations and used to assess the suitability of crops for wide-scale commercial production in northern Australia.

“Commercial trials are due to start in the project’s final year, by which time we will also have a comprehensive manual for producers detailing which crops to grow, the best areas to grow them and an outline of the market and supply chain opportunities,” he said.

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the project would provide the foundation for a new, high-value industry with the potential to transform northern agribusinesses.

“This project will build the supply chain links needed to establish a new and viable industry for northern Australia and create new income streams for producers.”


Australia’s energy technology ecosystem is being supported with the announcement of $2 million in new funding to help drive the future of energy resources innovation.

The funding is being provided by National Energy Resources Australia (NERA). NERA is a research and knowledge organisation for Australia's energy resources industries.

NERA Chief Executive Miranda Taylor said the funding will support industry-led projects that can strengthen Australia's position as a global hub for excellence in energy resources innovation.

“We know collaborative partnerships between industry and innovators can produce truly transformational results, and NERA is committed to continuing to support our sector adopt and adapt to new technologies that generate competitive industry outcomes, efficiencies and deliver value and jobs across the nation,” Ms Taylor said.

“Through this new project funding announcement, we hope to work with local innovators to build their capacity and capability in fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, which are critical to improving the future productivity and safety of the energy resources sector, as well as developing transferable skills and technologies with benefits across the Australian economy,” Ms Taylor said.

“By continuing our sector-wide initiatives, we can unlock more than $10 billion in new value and achieve our vision of Australia as a global energy powerhouse, a sought-after destination for investment and the leading source of knowledge and solutions.”

NERA’s $2 million future technology project fund is open to all applicants who meet the expression of interest guidelines, and NERA is encouraging applicants with projects / initiatives that have one or more of the following focus areas impacting the energy resources sector:

  • remote operations, robotics and artificial intelligence
  • unconventional gas technologies
  • hydrogen
  • decommissioning.

Project proponents who can demonstrate innovative approaches, clear commercialisation applications and clear project timeframes should consider applying.

Projects must have matched industry funding, be undertaken in Australia and address one or more of the knowledge priorities identified in the NERA sector competitiveness plan - a strategic roadmap for Australia's oil, gas, coal and uranium industries and value chains.

Applications must be received by 30 September 2019. The funding is part of NERA’s collaborative $15.6 million project fund.

For more information, go to the National Energy Resources Australia website.

Last updated: 27 August 2019

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