Like most businesses in the Territory, I had to manage a lot of uncertainty over the previous 12 months and with borders opening, we are coming out the other side with purpose and determination. I’m heading off to get my booster knowing that this is the new norm, but it’s a small price if I get back to business and travel interstate to see family – which is now years overdue.
Operating a business has had its moments too and I’m grateful to the steady hand of my national partners who have helped me. I was bordering on bipolar, switching between sustainable ideas, operational challenges and clients looking for me to pull out a crystal ball when it comes to strategic marketing in quicksand. And keeping in mind we are one of the places least affected by the disruption of lockdowns.
The return on investment of my time and what I have personally given up has come at a cost. I am brave enough to uncover my faults in this publisher’s page, which is cathartic. I will be sure to impart my experience with ICAC in depth as a special report once the reviews have taken place. My silence at the moment is one of patience.
I’ve had a tough year personally. However, the business is robust enough to be the rock that underpins my sanity and I’m happy to announce after everything we are opening a Campaign Edge office in Townsville. Why Townsville? It has the same economic composition as Darwin with defence, resources, the public sector, social services and tourism. The ‘Ville knows how to bounce back from cyclones and the people are just as down-to-earth and genuine as they are here. We will bring our successful low-cost, full-service agency model to Townsville, which services Northern Queensland, and grow it from the ground up just like we did with Sprout 20 years ago. The first thing Nigel, our editor, said was he wished he was 20 years younger with all the opportunity that this presents. However, it will be years before we launch a NTHQ in Queensland – or maybe not.
I’m about to become an empty nester for the first time in 19 years so I’ll be looking for things to do. I’m so proud my daughter Grace is off to the University of Queensland to undertake a BA in Film and Television. I also know Darwin is her heart home and one day a very creative professional will return in the place of the wilful 19-year-old that is about to leave.
Back to TQ. This edition contains an article that looks forward to a couple of game-changing economic developments – the development of a carbon capture industry and a high-end manufacturing hub. The “twins” hold out the prospect of thousands of jobs and enormous wealth. Yes, that’s exciting stuff. Not so many years ago, the Territory’s geographic position was considered a proverbial albatross around our neck. Now it’s recognised as our greatest asset as the Gateway to Asia. Add to that a can-do, progressive attitude and you realise that the Territory is going places. The Territory is not just a great place to live and work – it’s a great place to invest.
We put the achievements of Emil Tastula firming up in lights as our cover story. My respect goes back to knowing his mother Penni and what a wonderful contribution to the Territory she made over her career. This is exactly why our population growth strategy needs to also retain the likes of Emil – to protect the Territory from the brain drain.
I’m pleased that this edition also publishes several positive articles about Indigenous people and Indigenous organisations. The Northern Land Council has been steadfast in its protection of Aboriginal communities. The North East Arnhem Land Aboriginal Corporation is punching well above its weight in the business world. And the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance is harnessing ancient and modern knowledge to protect the environment. Any fool can publish negative stories about First Nations people. Territory Q chooses to show that there is another side to the coin – that Aboriginal people are doing much to help themselves.
I invite you to come and join the Mates of the Murranji Muster on the 22 August 2022 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the joining of the overland telegraph. This was one of the greatest projects of Australia’s pioneering days. Territory Q is looking back to harness the spirit of our pioneers as Darwin presents itself to become a hub for data centres and high-tech digital jobs announcing the construction of a $100 million, lightning-fast subsea fibre cable into Asia in August this year.
I’ll close with my own epic feat, which is to survive and thrive in business for 20 years. I started Sprout on 1st December 2001 and the photo below was taken that day.
I might look concerned, but I can honestly say I have loved every tough minute. I look forward to giving back through the Activate Darwin and Chamber of Commerce boards, and continue to make a positive contribution to the business and economic narrative of the Territory in the pages of TQ every quarter.