Chief Minister Adam Giles says the Government will contribute $100 million towards a new ship-lift facility at the Darwin port.

CHIEF MINISTER Adam Giles has offered $100 million in Government funding to help develop a common user ship-lift facility that he believes will deliver Darwin major marine maintenance contracts now filled elsewhere in Australia and Asia.

It is hoped the funding will attract private investment to develop a $500 million common user marine facility to form the centrepiece of the proposed 140ha Marine Industry Park at East Arm.

Mr Giles said the $100 million had become available as a result of the recent deal for a 99-year lease of the Darwin port to the Chinese Landbridge Group.

Making the announcement at yesterday’s Northern Defence Summit in Darwin, Mr Giles said it was hoped Defence, Australian Border Force and commercial vessels operating off the Territory coast would opt for servicing in Darwin, rather than elsewhere.

Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said a multi-user facility on the north coast would be of “strategic significance”. But he said the Australian Marine Complex at Henderson, in Western Australia, which had received $370 million in State and Federal funding in addition to private investment, could prove an impediment to Territory aspirations.

The Australian Marine Complex services naval and commercial vessels, including from the oil and gas industry, has five wharves, a floating dock and heavy lift capacity.

Mr Giles said with Australian navy vessels likely to spend increasing time in north Australian waters a common user ship-lift facility in Darwin was needed.

“We believe we have the solution to those requirements for maintenance with the development of the Marine Industry Park adjacent to East Arm Wharf.”

He said the proposed $1 billion Marine Industry Park would deliver world-class facilities and provide integrated marine maintenance, fabrication, engineering and general marine services.

The common user ship-lift facility would provide the “foundation” of the park if Defence and Border Protection “commit to servicing in the Top End”.

“We are prepared to go to market with our $100 million seeking commercial partners early next year, with construction scheduled to commence as early as 2017,” Mr Giles said.

“The common user ship-lift facility will meet the current and future maintenance of Defence, Australian Border Protection and other commercial users and remove the need for Defence vessels to use Asian ports or other Australia cities for maintenance and repairs.”

Source: Daily Telegraph