Chief Executive's review

I am pleased to present the 2018–2019 Department of Primary Industry and Resources Annual Report. Primary Industry and Resources is a critical portfolio for the Northern Territory (NT) economy.

Our industries operate across the NT’s lands, coastal areas, agriculture, minerals and energy sectors and are major economic drivers with significant potential to generate economic and employment opportunities for all Territorians.

We collaborate with diverse industry stakeholders to support Aboriginal and regionally-based business development, to optimise agriculture, fisheries and resource sector benefits and to seize opportunities to develop northern Australia and attain the NT’s full economic potential as a gateway to global markets, endowed with rich resources and pristine environments..

We achieve this through our research functions on land, in laboratories and waterways, via extension activities, founded on extensive scientific evidence and research programs, in policy development across plant, animal, aquatic, resource sectors, within our regulatory responsibilities and through tenure administration as the basis for all mining and petroleum activity.

During 2018‑19, we delivered on a number of key priority government projects designed to support a strong economy, local jobs growth and regional development, including:

  • significant progress in transforming Berrimah Farm into a state-of-the-art science precinct to accommodate our leading agricultural science and development teams as part of the $34 million site redevelopment. This includes a $5.7 million field laboratory to house agriculture research, post-harvest research and agronomy functions, $12.99 million science services building to support plant pathology, entomology, water chemistry and microbiology functions and the proposed construction of a molecular diagnostic wing as part of a joint venture with the Australian Government to house a purpose-built quarantine containment level 3 (QC3) facility. The new facilities will position the NT at the forefront of contemporary biosecurity and agribusiness development, creating a centre of excellence for agriculture, pest and disease research and diagnostics. I would like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of staff in collaborating and engaging in this very large transformation project to create a fit-for-purpose facility to support industry and drive economic growth
  • implementing over 30 of the 135 recommendations from the Final Report of the Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry to strengthen regulation, ensure industry accountability and to respect community and culture to allow government to recommence assessing applications for hydraulic fracturing activity. This has included:
    • legislative reforms to the Petroleum Act 1984 to strengthen regulation and increase the transparency of the onshore gas industry in the NT
    • delivering the monitoring and compliance strategy to consistently and transparently implement the key legislative and regulatory requirements of the Petroleum Act 1984
    • establishing the Code of Practice for onshore petroleum activities to provide minimum standards that the onshore petroleum industry in the NT must adhere to
    • undertaking community consultation on proposed areas to be declared reserved blocks for petroleum activities under a staged approach. These areas have unique values and an important role in providing environmental, social, health and cultural benefits to surrounding communities.
  • declaring Australia free of banana freckle on 1 February 2019 following collaboration on the eradication program with industry, community, the Australian Government and other NT Government departments since first detection in 2013. The response was one of the largest plant pest eradication programs ever attempted in Australia and achieving freedom is a tremendous accomplishment
  • supporting the development of Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub with a spotlight on agribusiness including cotton and hemp industries. Cotton trial outcomes in the Katherine region suggest a viable cotton industry could make a major contribution to the NT’s export economy. The NT is also well positioned geographically and climatically to supply viable seed for hemp crop propagation in the growing regions in southern Australia. A Bill was introduced to Parliament in May to progress the development and regulation of a hemp sector, which will facilitate investment and job creation in regional areas
  • engaging with industry and stakeholders to support and develop Tennant Creek as a mining and minerals hub. This includes working with industry and stakeholders to promote resource potential and attract resources exploration including managing a dedicated webpage to help promote mining related activities in the Barkly region
  • delivering an efficient and professional operational emergency animal welfare response to Cyclone Trevor – the largest evacuation since Cyclone Tracy. Our ground staff attended the evacuated communities and provided vital animal welfare support
  • working towards delivering the recommendations from the Fiscal Strategy Panel’s final report, A plan for budget repair and the outcomes of the Chief Minister’s Root and Branch review. The root and branch review will see the department achieve efficiencies through fleet vehicles, grants and exploring revenue generation options. The budget repair final report will see some corporate service functions centralised into the Department of Corporate and Information Services, infrastructure activity centralised into the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, and the consolidation of investment attraction functions into an Office of Investment Attraction.

This year the department also updated its structure to better align with the Strategic Plan 2018-2022 to ensure the department is best placed to operate efficiently and deliver key priorities. This included internal updates to systems and business processes to streamline and optimise performance. This underpins our aim to have business governance, administrative systems and processes that are robust, easy to use and fast to support our strategic goal of building capacity and improving service delivery.

The new strategic plan required a significant body of work to align department structures, business plans, governance processes, delegations and reporting mechanisms with our new strategic direction. This process required innovation, collaboration and support across every facet of the department, a significant achievement led by the senior executive.

Our systems and capabilities must be contemporary, efficient and agile to meet current and emerging stakeholder expectations, critical in our ability to effectively facilitate the sustainable growth of primary industries and resources. I would like to acknowledge the resilience and adaptability of our staff as we continue to evolve to meet stakeholder expectations, now and into the future.

Our people continue to underpin our success, providing valuable strength in their diversity, professionalism and resilience. I am proud to say that we have invested in building our internal capability and leadership through a range of initiatives over the past year, including the introduction of a Young Leaders Group, development of the People Matters survey response plan and a revised approach to STAR Awards. These awards encourage and reward individuals and teams for outstanding achievements and celebrate service milestones.

Underpinned by our new strategic plan, I am confident this framework will further support our mandate to meet current and future government, industry and stakeholders expectations, and deliver on our vision that sees the NT’s primary industries and resources continuing to drive economic growth.

Alister Trier
Chief Executive
Department of Primary Industry and Resources
September 2019


Last updated: 23 October 2019

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