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$300 million Darwin ship lift greenlighted by NAIF

10 December 2019

Joint media release with Senator for the Northern Territory, Senator Sam McMahon

$300 million will be delivered by the Liberal Nationals Government to help build a new ship lift facility and spark a business boom in Darwin, with Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan approving a loan through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

Minister Canavan said the new ship lift promised to diversify Darwin’s business base and offered long-term benefits for the NT economy.

“This project ticks a lot of boxes – economic diversification, job creation, new roles for highly skilled workers and new opportunities for NT businesses,” Minister Canavan said.   

“The ship lift facility will be able to lift vessels of up to 5,000 tonnes, and includes four wharves and 20 hectares of hardstand area for repair, maintenance and storage of vessels, a wash down bay and paint and blast facilities.

“These new facilities will broaden the city’s marine maintenance and servicing abilities and create plenty of spinoff benefits for local businesses and tradies, generating around 100 direct jobs during the construction and installation phase and at least a further 187 jobs during the operational phase.

“Even more importantly, this investment will deliver an important, strategic capability to Northern Australia. The closest marine facility of a similar size to a ship lift in Darwin, is the Fremantle Port, which is over nine days travel time away. A Darwin-based facility would save around $500,000 in travel costs for Darwin vessels compared to travelling to Fremantle for maintenance.

“Greater developments at the Darwin Port can also help open up new opportunities for manufacturing developments such as those connected to the development of the Beetaloo basin.”

Senator for the Northern Territory Dr Sam McMahon said the ship lift project would support hundreds of new and ongoing jobs in the NT.

“I’ve been pushing hard to get the ship lift project to this point and am really pleased to see it reach this critical point,” Senator McMahon said.

“We want jobs in the NT, and with the backing of the Coalition Government, the new ship lift facilities will be a real opportunity to boost existing businesses, support new ones and create new, skilled jobs for Territorians.”

The proposed ship lift would be operated by the Paspaley Group as a multi-user facility for industries including offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling, Defence and Border Force.

The NAIF loan will be made to the Northern Territory Treasury Corporation with the NT Government contributing the remaining $100 million to the project.

Confirmation of the $300 million loan adds to the strong pipeline of NAIF investments and conditional approvals being delivered in the NT which will help create almost 2,400 jobs, including:

  • Humpty Doo Barramundi Farm - up to $7.18 million – 20 construction jobs, 50 new ongoing positions
  • Voyages Indigenous Tourism - up to $27.5 million – 80 construction jobs, 320 ongoing positions
  • Northern Territory Airports Pty Ltd - up to $150 million – 980 jobs in construction, 142 new ongoing positions, 500 indirect jobs 
  • Verdant Minerals Limited - up to $160 million (conditional approval) – 300 construction jobs

A diverse range of job-generating projects are being supported, including ports, roads and airports, and investments that support businesses in tourism, education, agriculture, resources and renewable energy.

Media contacts:  

Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180    

Senator McMahon's office 02 6277 3643