Business bulletin: 12 December 2019


Ship Lift
Caption: Artist impression of the new ship lift at East Arm.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is making an Investment Decision of $300 million funding towards the ship lift project.

Located at East Arm, the ship lift will bring $260 million into the NT economy every year and generate 400 direct and indirect ongoing jobs during operation through the expansion of the ship building and repairs and maintenance industry – it will also create 100 jobs during construction.

The 103 metre ship lift will be capable of servicing large vessels from industries including offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling, Defence and Border Force – being used to lift vessels out of the water so they can be serviced, repaired or stored, including for safety during cyclones.

Darwin is the only functional deep water harbour in Northern Australia and without this facility, large vessels travel 10 days to be serviced in another town.

The in-principle agreement between the Northern Territory Government and Paspaley will result in the ship lift constructed on Government-owned land, operated by Paspaley under a 10-year renewable agreement.

Construction is set to commence in 2021.

International Students
Caption: International student numbers are rising in the Northern Territory.

International students are increasingly choosing the Northern Territory, with the latest enrolment figures showing a 25 per cent jump in just one year.

This compared to an 11 per cent increase nationally.

The latest national enrolment data shows that in September 2019, there were 3100 international students enrolled to study in the Territory, compared to 2500 in September 2018.

The rise comes after the release of the seven year International Education and Training Strategy, in a concentrated effort to boost the 2500 students studying in the NT in 2018 to 10,000 by 2025.

Reaching 10,000 students would more than triple the overseas student market’s contribution to the Territory economy from $91 million in 2018 to more than $300 million in 2025.

As part of the strategy, Study NT attended trade delegations to India, Nepal and Indonesia to build relationships with those countries and promote the benefits of studying in the NT.

In April, the Northern Territory Government also secured the International Consultants Education Fair – Australia and New Zealand Agents (ICEF-ANZA), which saw 400 education agents from 50 countries in Darwin who learnt about the many benefits of studying in the Territory.

Industry research shows 75 per cent of international students are recruited through agents.

The international student sector is worth $32 billion each year to the Australian economy and analysis undertaken by Deloitte in 2019 shows each student contributes an average $40,693 to the economy each year.

The September enrolment data shows that private Vocational Education and Training (VET) is leading the international student boom in the Territory, with a massive yearly increase of 131 per cent compared to the national private VET growth of 19 per cent.

For more information on studying in Australia’s Northern Territory, visit

Yapa Crew
Caption: Aboriginal workers are showing that they are the toughest of Territorians.

Five men trained 10-12 hours a day for 14 days straight in temperatures that topped 40 degrees.

“We managed the heat issue as best we could, but this program wasn’t for the faint-hearted,” says Mark Hopkins, operations manager of Civil Train NT, the training division of the Civil Contractors Federation, a not-for-profit industry body.

The trainers doubted at first that the men would finish the program – but their gutsy can-do attitude was obvious from the beginning.

“They showed great resilience and tenacity,” says Mr Hopkins.

The men were part of the Yapa Crew, an Aboriginal work crew established by Martin Glass, managing director and founder of GreenGlass Consulting, an Alice Springs-based consulting, transport and labour hire company.

The crew provides land management and other general services to the Granites gold mine in the Tanami Desert, 850 kilometres south of Darwin.

Yapa is a Warlpiri word for “local” – or, more literally, people who have a belonging to the country.

GreenGlass has provided opportunities for numerous Indigenous men and women since it was set up 10 years ago.

The latest training program was held at Hamilton Downs, 75 kilometres by road from Alice Springs.

It provided a range of work-ready skills, such as preparing to work safely in the construction industry, using hand and power tools, operating small plant and equipment, and plant operations, such as skid steer, loader and excavator.

Mr Hopkins says all five trainees “excelled” and are now committed to completing a Certificate III qualification.

The Newmont-operated Granites gold mine continues to support the Yapa Crew in training and personal development.

Civil Train NT management praises the “cooperation, professionalism and flexibility” of the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation for helping make the remote training programs possible.

Woks Up
Caption: Woks Up chef Ricky Lai..."he's very good — we're very happy with him".

Pierre and Dee Yu tried for months to lure an Australian chef skilled in preparing Asian cuisine to the Central Australian town of Tennant Creek without any luck.

“We got replies to our adverts but mostly from chefs with backgrounds in western cooking,” says Pierre. “And they weren’t keen on moving to Tennant. It was very frustrating.”

Pierre, whose family owns the Woks Up restaurant in Tennant’s main street, attended an information session on the Northern Territory Designated Area Migration Agreement, which makes it easier for migrants to enter Australia if they are going to live in the NT.

He later contacted one of the Territory Government’s Small Business Champions, Josephine Bethel, who put him in touch with the Migration NT team.

“Josephine and Migration NT were great,” Pierre says. “They explained the procedure if we wanted to take on a migrant chef.”

The process took a few months but Hong Kong-born chef Ricky Lai eventually arrived.

“He’s very good – we’re very happy with him,” says Pierre.

Ricky was working in Perth but the sponsoring restaurant went bust – and faced the choice of quickly finding another job or being sent back to Hong Kong.

“He was very happy to move to Tennant,” says Pierre. “There was a lot of paperwork to do but as soon as his visa was approved, he came to us straight away.

“It has all worked out very well in the end. Making contact with the Migration NT team made a big difference.”

Woks Up has enjoyed a busy dry season and is now looking forward to Christmas bookings.

Dee Yu was working two or three jobs in Adelaide to support his family when his wife Nicole was offered a bank job in Tennant.

The whole family moved north and soon opened a restaurant in the Sporties Club in 2004.

After a few years, Dee decided he wanted a more prominent position in town and moved Woks Up to the main Paterson Street.

The restaurant holds up to 80 diners and caters for parties and other functions.

To get in touch with a Small Business Champion near you, visit or call 1800 193 111.

Export Awards
Caption: NT finalists at the 2019 Export Awards in Canberra.

The Northern Territory’s thriving export industry was well represented in Canberra this month, with 10 finalists competing in the 57th Australian Export Awards at Parliament House.

The awards are a national program that recognises and honours Australian companies engaged in international business, who have achieved sustainable growth through innovation and commitment.

Congratulations to our Territory finalists:

  • Alana Kaye College – Emerging Exporter Award
  • Australian Blue Cypress – Manufacturing and Advanced Materials Award
  • Australian Ilmenite Resources – Minerals, Energy and Related Services Award
  • Charles Darwin University – Education and Training Award
  • International College of Advanced Education – Small Business Award
  • Monsoon Aquatics – Sustainability Award
  • PlantSensors – Technology and Innovation Award
  • Pressure Dynamics – Professional Services Award
  • South East Asian Livestock Services – Agribusiness, Food and Beverages Award
  • Tourism Central Australia – Regional Exporter Award

In September this year, the Northern Territory international export trade reached its highest ever level, at $8.1 billion.

Territory Business Centre Christmas close down, 25 December to 1 January, business as usual from 2 January 2020

Last updated: 12 December 2019

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