$150 million green light for NT Airport expansion project

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has approved finance, subject to conditions, for a $300 million expansion of airport facilities in Darwin, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. The investment will help create up to 1,500 jobs and support the development of the NT's export potential, particularly in agriculture.

The project is set to benefit from a $150 million loan from the NAIF, which will help Northern Territory Airports Ltd upgrade storage and energy infrastructure at a number of airports. The upgrades include:

- construction of cold storage and an export hub at Darwin International Airport (DIA);
- construction of solar energy farms at DIA, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek airports and an off-site multi-user battery to be located 80km from Darwin; and
- resurfacing of Alice Springs airport’s runway, taxiways and apron and installation of new runway lighting

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan said the project would spark new job and economic opportunities across the NT.

“This project will deliver jobs and that is exactly what the NT needs right now. The Coalition Government's Developing Northern Australia agenda is all about creating jobs and economic opportunity and these investments will do that in spades,” Minister Canavan said.

"These investments will increase the operational capacity of each airport and that will increase economic opportunities for each community.

“The projects will create jobs, drive new export opportunities into Asian markets, boost the NT’s tourism potential and support energy security for businesses and residents in the north.

“Up to 1,000 jobs are expected to be generated through the construction phase. In turn, those positions will support around 500 indirect jobs through the supply chain, and create more than 140 new ongoing positions.”

CLP Senator for the Northern Territory Nigel Scullion said local Territory businesses, including Indigenous organisations, would also benefit from the project.

“Northern Territory Airports has committed to a 10 per cent Indigenous employment target through their Indigenous Engagement Strategy, creating new work opportunities throughout the Territory,” Senator Scullion said.

“While Territory businesses are suffering under Michael Gunner’s economic mismanagement, the Coalition is backing NT industry to invest in major projects that will deliver a much needed boost to jobs, trade and tourism.

“This NAIF loan is on top of $4.8 million for the Darwin International Airport Freight and Education Hub I announced earlier this year under round two of the Building Better Regions Fund, showing how we are backing business to help get the NT economy back on track and create jobs for Territorians.”

Airport Development Group CEO Ian Kew said the Airport Development Group was looking forward to working with the government to expand export potential in the Northern Territory.

“This investment will grow our reputation and capacity to attract bigger planes to carry more tourists and more of our region’s iconic products such as mud crabs, barramundi, mangoes and melons to the world,” Mr Kew said.

“These can be processed through the new VHT plant and stored in the new cold storage facility before being air freighted straight out of Darwin, rather than being trucked to Queensland.”

NAIF CEO Laurie Walker said the project would be NAIF’s largest investment to date.

“We are very pleased to promote the significant public benefit that will be delivered for the Northern Territory through this project.”

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility's approval is conditional on the conclusion of various management plans and additional consultation with stakeholders. The NAIF looks forward to working with the Northern Territory Airports Ltd to meet these conditions in the coming months.

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