Andrew Cowan is the Investment Commissioner, Jason Schoolmeester the Major Projects Commissioner and Louise McCormick the acting Infrastructure Commissioner.
They know that all three roles are intertwined – one necessary to the other – and plan to work closely together.
“We are already working as a united team,” says Mr Cowan.
The commissioners will provide a targeted approach to highlighting the Territory’s investment potential, helping drive major projects and providing the infrastructure that will make the NT attractive to investors.
“We’ll have a laser-like focus on driving economic growth,” says Mr Cowan. “We want investment that will create jobs and diversify our economy.”
“We’ll go to market with specific investment opportunities. We’ll help people know the compelling case for investing in the Territory.”
The overarching aim is to build the Territory’s economy to $40 billion a year by 2030.
The Commissioners believe the NT has many investment attractions, such as defence, renewables, hydrogen, energy, minerals, gas, manufacturing and agriculture.
Infrastructure, such as roads, power and water, digital connections and land, plays a critical role in attracting investment.
“It can make or break a potential project,” says Ms McCormick. “If the supporting infrastructure isn’t there, investors find it harder to invest due to the additional capital cost.”
A good example of enabling infrastructure is the upgrading of the Keep River Plains Road.
Jointly funded by the Territory and Australian governments, the road upgrade was crucial in getting the $1.5 billion Project Sea Dragon over the line because it provided all-year access to the prawn farm at Legune Station in the far north-western corner of the Territory.
Ms McCormick is keen to work in partnership with the Federal Government to unlock the economic potential of the Territory through joint investment in key infrastructure.
She will argue that more infrastructure is needed to ensure these nation-building projects go ahead, and that has been backed by Infrastructure Australia’s Strategic Plan, released in September of this year.
The plan states: Targeted infrastructure investment in Northern Australia and developing regions will enable the next wave of development to boost economic growth, security and natural resource exports.
Mr Schoolmeester believes the Territory’s economic prospects are bright and sees the recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic as a “once in a generation” chance for growth.
The NT is home to about $11 billion worth of major projects and there is about $35 billion worth of planned and proposed projects in the pipeline.
The new commissioners are well qualified for the job.
Mr Schoolmeester has significant experience in delivering projects in the defence, energy, gas, manufacturing, mining, agribusiness and space sectors.
He led the successful competitive process to secure development of the Northern Gas Pipeline.
Mr Cowan also has extensive experience delivering complex projects and driving strategic priorities in defence, regional development, international engagement and investment.
He recently secured a $355.5 million investment package for the Future of Jabiru and Kakadu through partnering with Traditional Owners, the Commonwealth and Energy Resources Australia.
Over the last 18 months. he has also worked on advancing the Territory’s digital capabilities and has been driving international sub-sea cable connectivity, which will provide links from Darwin to Asia and America.
Ms McCormick is a chartered engineer in civil and structural engineering and has more than 20 years’ experience in the transport and civil/structural engineering sectors.
She is the Deputy Chair for Austroads and represents the Northern Territory on several other national boards, committees and working groups, including the Australian Road Research Board and Infrastructure and Transport Senior Official Committee Deputies.
Her appointment was warmly welcomed by Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew.
She says it is a “milestone” for the Territory and Ms McCormick will “identify and champion” opportunities for investment to drive economic growth.
Local and national peak industry groups welcomed the appointments and have spoken to the critical roles the commissioners will play in helping to shape the Territory’s economic future.
Northern territory Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Greg Ireland says: “We look forward to engaging with them to achieve significant outcomes for the benefit of the entire Northern Territory community.”