Election 2022: Northern Australia gets attention from politicians in federal election campaign

By Melissa Coade

April 26, 2022

Scott Morrison in Darwin
Scott Morrison in Darwin on the weekend. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

More jobs and crime control have featured in a multi-million dollar spending pitch the Coalition has made in the Northern Territory and Townsville as part of its federal campaign.

Scott Morrison announced $14 million for a community-led response to crime in Alice Springs, and another $300 million for a new hydrogen hub in Darwin and other carbon capture storage (CCS) sites within the Middle Arm priority region over the long weekend. 

Should the government return to power, the coalition would work to tackle youth crime and antisocial behaviour, the PM said, also pledging more money for mental health and support services. This includes $3.9 million for local support and training activities, $600,000 to install CCTV at three sites in Alice Springs, $4 million for extra and more frequent community patrols, and $2 million to create more safe places for young people.

“We are backing in a community-led response to the challenges in Alice Springs, with more night patrols, youth training and early intervention, a new youth focused area of the library, mental health services and more CCTV,” Morrison said. 

The funding announcement was made in response to a request from the Alice Springs Town Council and mayor Matt Paterson.

“Earlier this year I met with mayor Matt Paterson and our CLP candidate for Lingiari Damien Ryan and I heard first-hand about the challenges facing the Alice Springs community and I committed to providing a package of support that helps residents, businesses and community groups,” Morrison added.

A regional jobs boost is also part of the Coalition’s election vision for the NT, with a plan to grow the number of regional apprentices with an extra 5% wage subsidy in their first year. A further 29,000 in-training support places would be made available for regional apprentices as part of a $22.6 million budget pledge, Morrison said. 

Lifting the standard of living in Australia’s regions was a major focus for the government, deputy pm and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said in a statement.

“[We] are committed to growing the prosperity and standard of living in our regions. This funding will increase living standards and enable economic growth,” he said. 

Money for the energy facilities would generate more than 3,800 jobs, Morrison said, as well as attract an estimated $1.9 billion investment in NT. Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Morrison characterised the NT as a ‘great frontier’ of entrepreneurship that would get more than $2 billion of transformational investment to achieve Australia’s economic plan.

“People [in the NT] have an absolute big go at trying to achieve what can be achieved, but they need that transformational investment. 

“We see the Northern Territory as playing a key role in Australia’s national economic plan — to be able to support services and guarantee those essentials to Australians, not just here [sic], but by what will be achieved here right across the country, from one end of the country to the other,” Morrison said. 

In partnership with the NT government, the Coalition said it would invest up to $70 million to develop a clean hydrogen industrial hub in Darwin. 

The government said it would give $100 million to Darwin LNG Pty Ltd and Santos Limited for an integrated Northern Australia carbon capture and storage hub; $96 million will be made available for future clean energy projects in the Northern Territory.

The Coalition also pledged $30 million to assess the ​​Petrel sub-basin’s suitability for permanent, safe and low-cost CO2 storage; $3.43 million for the CSIRO to develop a NT low emissions CO2 utilisation industrial hub business case and associated technical studies; and another $1 million would also be given to Inpex Operations Australia Pty Ltd for its early-stage hydrogen hub – market development study at Middle Arm.

Minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction Angus Taylor said Australia’s LNG had a potential comparative advantage as customer countries sought to cut their carbon emissions.

“With world-class natural gas resources in the Beetaloo and offshore basins, ample renewables capacity and a skilled workforce, there are extensive jobs and economic opportunities for Territorians,” Taylor said.

On Tuesday the pm was in Townsville to announce more money for another hydrogen hub, with $70 million, from a $275 million clean energy investment, to go a consortium backing the project. Townsville’s hydrogen hub status was overlooked by the federal government in a series of announcements last year. Together with projects in Gladstone, the proposed facilities are expected to create 5,700 more jobs. They will be operational by 2025.


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