Major project status policy framework
The Northern Territory Government is committed to the efficient delivery of major projects that will contribute to and support the economic development of the Northern Territory (NT) and its regions.
To support the delivery of such projects, the NT Government awards major project status to private sector initiated and delivered projects which meet the specific major project status criteria.
The objectives of the major project status policy framework are:
- to attract and promote private sector led commercially, economically, ecologically and socially sustainable projects that will create jobs and drive NT economic growth and diversity, and
- to support the timely and efficient delivery of such projects through consistent and efficient government processes.
For project proponents, the benefits of major project status include:
- an acknowledgement by the NT Government of the significance of the project to the NT
- identification and mapping of project related government approvals
- whole of government coordination and facilitation of the project and project related government approvals
- opportunity to use NT Government investment attraction activities, which include overseas trade missions, to access markets and potential sources of finance, and
- a dedicated project case manager appointed as the single point contact till project delivery.
This framework sets out the major project status assessment criteria, the application requirements, and the evaluation and award process.
Investment Territory within the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet is responsible for the administration of the major project status framework including the assessment of applications for major project status.
It is noted that significant areas of land in the NT are subject to either the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act or the Native Title Act. The requirements of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act also need to be satisfied.
The grant of major project status does not and is not intended to pre-empt, affect or influence any approvals or actions required by a project proponent under these Acts.
Further, it should also be noted that the grant of major project status does not remove the need for a project proponent to comply with all other relevant legislative requirements and obtain all necessary authorisations, licences and permits relevant to its project.
When assessing an application for major project status, the NT Government will assess the project against the following criteria:
The project’s significance is linked to project size and includes consideration of:
- the project’s NT related capital expenditure (typically $100 million in Darwin, with lower thresholds applying in remote and regional areas)
- the project’s NT related operational expenditure
- the project’s direct and indirect construction and operational workforce requirements
- the proportion of capital and / or operational expenditure that will be sourced from within the NT or the region, and
- the proportion of the work force that will be sourced from within the specific locality or the NT, including the impact on Indigenous employment and skilling.
The project’s strategic impact including consideration of:
- opportunities to leverage additional investment such as the multiplier impact on the supply chain
- potential for flow on benefits from the project to other industries
- the contribution that the project makes to enhanced industry / sector resilience
- the project’s alignment with NT Government objectives and policies, and
- the potential for additional economic development opportunities to be unlocked by the project.
The project’s complexity including:
- the regulatory and government approval requirements including the number and diversity of licenses, authorisations, and permits required, and
- the environmental, economic and social impacts both within and beyond the project footprint.
The project’s economic and commercial feasibility needs to be addressed. It is expected that, at a minimum, a pre-feasibility study would have been completed.
The study would be expected to canvas project scope and high level costings, demonstrating that the project can be delivered. Such pre-feasibility studies should also give consideration to all relevant aspects of the project’s delivery including timing, financing, environmental, social impact and land tenure issues.
Capacity to deliver
The proponent’s capacity to deliver the project including:
- evidence of expertise and previous experience in the development and delivery of similar projects
- the approach to and capacity to finance the project, and
- the approach to project funding.
Whether there is need for NT Government support
Details of any specific request including:
- detailed description of the request (eg the delivery of infrastructure or concessions)
- details of how any NT Government contribution impacts on the project business case
- taxpayer return from any NT Government contribution including benefits and opportunities to the region in which the project is located and more broadly
- the timing of any contribution request in relation to the project delivery timeline, and
- how the request for a contribution aligns with NT Government priorities and policy.
The award of major project status is not a commitment by the NT Government to provide the requested assistance. The extent and level of project support the NT Government would be prepared to provide will be considered on a case by case basis and where appropriate will be detailed in a project development agreement.
Local industry participation, workforce development and social impact considerations
The project’s potential impacts on local industry participation, local workforce development and social impacts on the community will be considered and proponents should provide high level comments in relation to the potential project impacts on each of these. The Territory benefit policy can assist proponents with these considerations.
An application for major project status must contain project and company details as outlined in attachment A.
The application for major project status should be addressed to:
Major project status application
Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet
GPO Box 4396
Darwin NT 0801
The process for consideration of applications for major project status is outlined in attachment B.
The assessment of the application is undertaken by Investment Territory in consultation with relevant agencies.
At any time through the assessment process, project proponents may be required to provide additional or clarification information including by way of presentation. Project proponents should note that incomplete applications requiring additional or clarification information may delay the assessment process.
Following assessment and evaluation, a report is submitted for consideration by a government committee comprising chief executive officers (CEO) of relevant agencies, the Jobs Sub Committee (CEO JSC). The CEO JSC will provide a recommendation to the NT Government as to the granting of major project status.
Once a decision has been made, this is communicated to the proponent.
It is noted that major project status does not absolve the project proponent from the need to comply with all regulatory requirements and approvals necessary to deliver the project nor does it mean that regulatory approvals processes can be avoided or truncated. All legislative and other legal requirements remain in force and must be complied with.
Following a decision to award major project status, and generally as a pre-condition to any public announcement concerning the award, the parties will enter into a project facilitation agreement (PFA).
A draft PFA is provided at attachment C and includes:
- objectives of the parties
- commitments of the parties
- governance arrangements relating to the delivery of the project including confidentiality arrangements
- detail around the project scope
- project milestones and deliverables
- term of major project status and the triggers for cessation or termination
- requirement for an industry participation plan (where relevant), and
- other issues specific to the project.
Major project status is granted for a term of three years. A proponent may, at any time six months prior to the completion of the term, apply for an extension of up to three years. In considering this application for extension the NT Government will take account of the proponent’s progress towards project milestones.
Notwithstanding the three year term, major project status may be revoked and the project facilitation agreement terminated by the NT Government in certain circumstances including:
- continual failure by the proponent to achieve agreed milestones and deliverables
- substantial non-compliance with relevant regulatory requirements, authorisations, licences, permits, or
- the project proponent entering into receivership, administration or liquidation.
The project proponent may revoke its major project status and / or terminate the PFA by written notice to the NT Government.
Major projects will generally be supported by:
- a PFA as set out above, and
- an internal project governance structure which includes:
- oversight by the CEO JSC with responsibility for:
- whole of government oversight of major projects
- the provision of advice and recommendations to the NT Government, and
- the review of the activities of the project control group.
- a project control group comprised of representatives from relevant NT Government agencies, Australian and local government representatives as relevant and the project proponent, to drive project delivery including through the timely identification and resolution of issues, and
- a dedicated NT Government project case manager who will:
- act as the project proponent’s single point of contact in the NT Government
- chair the project control group, and
- act as the conduit between the CEO JSC and the project control group.
- oversight by the CEO JSC with responsibility for:
A key consideration for the NT Government is local and indigenous employment and a strong and vibrant local business community. To achieve this, all major projects are strongly encouraged to have an approved Territory benefit plan in accordance with the Territory benefit policy.
Any major project where the NT Government makes either a direct financial investment and / or an indirect quantifiable contribution beyond facilitation under this framework will be required to have an approved Territory benefit plan.
The NT Government will work with proponents to develop this plan.
All applications for major project status are treated as confidential and the assessment process is undertaken accordingly.
No public statements regarding the awarding of major project status can be made by either party without the consent of the other party. Generally, this would only be following the execution of the project facilitation agreement.
Last updated: 30 March 2021
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