The Top End lifestyle will be spruiked to people down south and international students in a bid to boost the Territory’s waning population.
The latest economic performance rankings from CommSec’s quarterly report showed the Northern Territory faced a sharp downward turn, despite retaining the top spot for economic growth.
The results, which compare the states and territories’ economies based on eight key indicators, showed the Territory rated the highest on construction work done and the job market.
But it is lagging behind on retail spending and business investment, in which it ranks the lowest in the country.
The report showed weak population growth was dragging housing finance and home starts behind, and was constraining the NT’s economic outlook.
NT Treasurer Nicole Manison said the Government was focused on infrastructure spending and job creation to boost the Territory’s population.
The Government plans to promote the Top End lifestyle down south to attract more people to the Territory.
“We’re going to go out and proactively and aggressively promote the Northern Territory to people as a place to move to, to live, to invest in, to visit and to do business,” she said.
“It’s great for your family, there’s plenty of job opportunities and we have the best lifestyle on offer.”
Ms Manison said the Government was also working hand-in-hand with Charles Darwin University to get more international students to study in the NT.
“International education is an incredibly competitive market, you just need to go down south to some of the big cities to see what an industry that is,” she said.
In responding to questions about whether the moratorium on fracking was holding up jobs, Ms Manison said a Deloitte report showed that was not the case.
“The growth really wouldn’t have started well and truly for probably another eight years’ time … the best way to get people to the Northern Territory here right now is investment in infrastructure,” she said.
But the Opposition said the Government needed momentum on whether or not to open the Territory to the onshore gas industry in order to instil business confidence and attract investment.
“The Government needs to make hard decisions and the hardest one they’re going to have to make in the very near future is around gas,” Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said.
“We’ve always said that you needed tight regulations and we’ve always said the whole Territory was excluded from the industry; it was up to industry to show us which areas they thought they could implement gas.
“We’ve seen a stop to that and it’s not only stopped people coming to the Territory, but the whole support industries around the whole energy sector have actually left Darwin.”
Economist Savanth Sebastian said the CommSec report highlighted the need for more investment in local businesses as the construction phase of the Inpex project came to an end.
“The Northern Territory overall, I’d say it’s holding up relatively well for the end of the mining boom and the completion of the gas projects but the outlook looking forward is certainly a little bit more concerning,” he said.
“I think Territorians should be prepared for a period of subdued growth over the medium term.”