The Northern Territory
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The Northern Territory Budget 2024–25 is expected to deliver cost-of-living support with the increase of the community service obligation (CSO) for utilities. 

The Northern Territory Government said Improving community safety is front and centre of the Budget, with a record breaking $561 million police budget for 2024–25. The Northern Territory Government is also investing an extra $570 million over five years in Police. 

As part of the common sense plan to lower crime, the Northern Territory Government will try to recruit an extra 200 police officers, upgrade infrastructure, employ 25 new emergency call-takers and CCTV operators, and provide ongoing funding to the Territory Safety Division. 

The Northern Territory Budget Budget 2024–25 includes $1.2 billion in funding for public order and safety, and $723 million in social protection to build safer and more resilient communities.

The Budget 2024–25 is expected to deliver cost of living support to Territorians with the increase of the CSO for utilities – including the uniform electricity tariff CSO – by $55.2 million, to $164.2 million.

Power in the Territory is heavily subsidised through the CSO. The investment in continuing the CSO subsidy is designed to keep power prices low, and means an average household saving of $1,200 and an average small business saving $2,200, when compared with not investing in the CSO.

The Budget 2024–25 includes increasing the value of the prepaid cards for Territory Seniors from $500 to $550, $8.2 million to continue delivering Back to School vouchers – which were increased by $50 to $200 – and $5.7 million to continue delivering the Sport Voucher Scheme.

The Northern Territory Government’s investment into education is expected to start to flow into classrooms from early 2025, with the education budget for government schools increasing by $100 million to a record $890 million. With non-government schools and other education services included, the funding figure is $1.34 billion.

The Budget has also allocated $109.2 million to support vocational education and training, and ensure the skill requirements of the Territory economy are met, through training, workforce growth and skilled migration initiatives.

The Budget 2024–25 also includes a commitment of more than $4.4 billion in infrastructure investment across the Territory.

Some of the infrastructure projects that are expected to be delivered by the Northern Territory Government include:

  • $4 billion for the joint Territory and Commonwealth investment in remote housing 
  • $209 million for Central Arnhem Road upgrades
  • $189.3 million for upgrades to the Outback Way corridor
  • $80.1 million for Tanami Road upgrades
  • $52.7 million for the Northern Territory Art Gallery
  • $50.4 million for infrastructure upgrades to reposition Jabiru as a tourism and regional services hub
  • $30.3 million to develop the Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub
  • $17.2 million to enhance recreational fishing infrastructure and many more projects across the Territory

The government said the Northern Territory economy is forecast to grow by 2.3 per cent in 2024–25, supported by growth in public expenditure and a recovery in household consumption, as pressure on household budgets ease.

Public investment is expected to increase by 11.2per cent in 2024-25, following strong growth in previous years.

Public investment is forecast to average $2.3 billion per annum from 2023–24 to 2027–28, providing significant support to the Territory economy and jobs with a steady supply of road infrastructure works, remote housing and defence projects.

The Northern Territory Government said there is a general government net operating balance deficit of $410 million in 2024–25, and surpluses every year over the forward estimates.

Northern Territory Chief Minister and Treasurer, Eva Lawler, said, “This is a common-sense budget, a budget that acknowledges our two highest priorities — keeping Territorians safe and getting Territorians working.”

“I’m working every day to deliver my common sense and comprehensive plans to lower crime and get the Territory working – and that’s why we are delivering record amounts to support police and fully fund our schools.”

Industry comment

Australian Energy Producers said the Northern Territory Budget highlights the importance of gas and acceleration of the industry’s net zero initiatives for the Territory’s economy.

Australian Energy Producers Northern Territory Director, David Slama, said, “The Budget shows the Territory Government is focused on delivering practical solutions on the road to net zero and underscores the importance of gas in Australia’s energy transformation.

“The Budget continues to help progress development of the extraordinary opportunity of the Beetaloo Basin and Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct, while reinforcing the economic importance of the Barossa project.”

“The oil and gas industry also supports the Resourcing the Territory exploration program, delivering investment in the NT and supporting new energy supply with all of its benefits.”

Mr Slama said the Budget provided for a more sustainable energy future, while helping secure economic and energy security benefits by developing the Territory’s onshore natural gas resources.

“The Budget invests in the industries and projects required for the energy transformation,” Mr Slama said.

LNG exports are also confirmed in the Budget as a major economic driver, with “gross state product forecast to grow by 2.3 per cent in the coming financial year, before accelerating to 7.1 per cent in 2025–26 as LNG exports from Barossa come online”.

“Growing LNG demand in our region is an enormous economic opportunity for the Territory and we welcome the Federal Government’s commitment in the Future Gas Strategy that Australia will remain a reliable and trusted trade and investment partner,” Mr Slama said.

“Our LNG exports have an important role to play in the energy security and decarbonisation of our region, in addition to the significant economic and strategic benefits from Australia’s key trading partners.”

Mr Slama said the Territory continues to lead the way in decarbonisation efforts, with welcome support in the Budget to establish a carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry.

“CCS represents a new net zero industry, supporting a least-cost path to net zero and offering significant economic and emissions reduction opportunities for hard-to-abate industries and our region,” Mr Slama said.

Image: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Elsalass 

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