Budget Paper No.6 1997/98 Northern Territory Economy
Tabled Paper 3223
Tabled Papers for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Overview After two years of very high growth, the Territory economy has entered a period of consolidation. Growth is now at more sustainable levels and can be expected to continue at a healthy rate. Independent forecasts of the Territory economy indicate that average growth of 5% per annum will be achieved over the next few years, a rate considerably higher than the national average. During 1996, the Territory again recorded the highest rate of population growth of any State or Territory at 2.2%, almost double the national rate. Strong population growth is both a consequence of and a contributor to, healthy economic growth. The Territory continues to have the lowest rate of unemployment of all States and Territories and at 5.5%, the Territory rate is more than 3 percentage points lower than the national average. The Territorys unemployment rate has been lower than the national average for the past seven years. This is an indication of the ongoing job opportunities available in the Territory, with employment, in a range of industries, growing by 2.5% in the past year. Territory price and wage rises in 1996 were again moderate. Darwins inflation rate was 2.1%, slightly higher than the national rate of 1.5%. A major factor in the lower inflation outcome has been the reduction in interest rates, especially housing interest rates. In 1996 Territory average weekly earnings growth was lower than the national average, continuing a recent trend, although Territory earnings are still higher than the national average. The construction industry experienced another very strong year with substantial activity in all sectors. Residential construction continued at a high level, buoyed by lower interest rates and high population growth. Work done on non-residential building was the highest in the past decade dominated by construction of retail facilities and hotels. Engineering work was also very strong with important areas being land servicing, mining infrastructure and the new port. The Territorys most important private sector industries continue to be mining, rural and tourism. For the second consecutive year the mining industry recorded an increase in value of production and the latest estimates show that the industry accounts for about one-sixth of Territory GSP, larger than any other industry. Both mineral and energy production were up in 1996-97 with the outlook for both sectors very promising. New and upgraded gold mines, a new diamond mine and an expansion of the Nabalco alumina processing plant should see strong growth in mineral production and processing over the next few years. Oil production from the Elang/Kakatua field in Area A of the Zone of Cooperation is v