Industry Outlook

The Northern Territory’s economic output is concentrated in the mining and manufacturing, and government and community services. The main contributors to employment are government and community services, retail and wholesale trade, and the construction industries. This publication provides an overview of the Territory’s key industries and discusses opportunities and risks to growth in these industries.

Table 1: Gross state product and employment, Territory 2020-211 (chain volume measure)
 GSPEmployment
 ValueChange 10-year
CAGR
Share of
GSP
NumberChange 10-year
CAGR
Share
 $M%%% %%%
Government and community services 6 539 3.7 2.6 26.4 57 210 2.8 3.2 43.7
Public administration and safety 3 125 3.9 1.4 12.5 22 151 0.7 1.9 16.9
Health care and social assistance 2 124 5.4 6.1 8.7 22 640 8.6 5.6 17.3
Education and training 1 290 0.6 1.3 5.2 12 419 - 2.9 2.0 9.5
Service industries 5 069 2.1 2.8 20.6 41 564 - 2.4 0.3 31.8
Accommodation and food services 610 8.5 1.2 2.4 8 125 7.2 - 1.1 6.2
Transport, postal and warehousing 798 - 6.1 3.5 3.4 5 136 - 13.4 - 0.3 3.9
Information and media telecommunications 119 3.5 2.8 0.5 1 161 - 11.9 - 5.3 0.9
Financial and insurance services 615 4.1 1.8 2.5 1 153 - 23.4 - 1.3 0.9
Rental, hiring and real estate services 346 0.3 1.7 1.4 1 934 - 5.7 - 1.3 1.5
Professional, scientific and technical services 866 6.5 5.9 3.5 7 357 - 0.7 2.2 5.6
Administrative and support services 425 - 7.4 0.4 1.8 5 060 10.5 2.9 3.9
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 465 0.9 1.9 1.8 1 938 8.2 0.3 1.5
Arts and recreational services 321 4.9 4.7 1.3 3 126 - 5.5 - 0.7 2.4
Other services 504 9.1 3.3 2.0 6 573 - 7.7 1.6 5.0
Mining and manufacturing 7 439 - 10.6 4 24.1 6 412 6.4 - 2.6 4.9
Mining 6 446 - 12.1 5.5 19.9 3 050 37.8 - 3.0 2.3
Manufacturing 993 0.4 - 2.3 4.2 3 362 - 11.9 - 2.2 2.6
Construction 1 464 0.4 - 0.6 6.0 10 343 - 4.3 - 1.7 7.9
Defence2 2 201 - 0.9 - 0.6 8.8 5 444 0.2 - 2.2 5.14
Retail and wholesale trade 1 578 10.1 3.2 6.5 12 955 - 8.8 - 1.4 9.9
Retail trade 741 8.2 2.2 3.0 11 220 - 3.7 - 0.5 8.6
Wholesale trade 837 11.9 4.2 3.5 1 735 - 32.2 - 5.7 1.3
Tourism3 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 924 23.7 - 0.5 3.6 2 401 - 0.5 - 2.8 1.8

CAGR: compound annual growth rate; GSP: gross state product; n/a: not available
1  Excludes non-industry components of GSP (ownership of dwellings, taxes less subsidies and statistical discrepancy). Numbers may not add due to rounding. Tourism and defence estimates are indicative. These sectors are not discrete industries in Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reporting, and activity for these sectors is captured across multiple industries in ABS state accounts data. Therefore, figures in the table do not sum to ABS‑reported GSP and employment data due to double counting related to the separate reporting of the tourism and defence sectors in this table.
2  ABS labour market statistics exclude defence personnel.
3  State Tourism Satellite Account numbers produced by Tourism Research Australia are not available for 2020-21 at time of publication.
4  This is the Territory's share of Australian Defence Force. 
Source: ABS, State Accounts, Cat. No. 5220.0, Labour Force, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003, unpublished defence data; Department of Defence Annual Reports; Tourism Research Australia State Tourism Satellite Accounts; Department of Treasury and Finance

After a decline in the domestic economy in 2020-21, economic growth is forecast to average 2.9% per annum in the 5 years to 2025-26, stronger than average annual growth of 1.5% in the 5 years to 2020-21.

Gross state product (GSP) is estimated to increase by 4.4% in 2021-22. This is stronger than the -0.6% reported in 2020-21, reflecting an increase in private investment of 36.6%, supported by large scale projects such as the Barossa Project and the Finniss lithium project. There are also several large scale resource and technology projects proposed that are not included in the forecasts and, if they proceed during the outlook period, will contribute to growth. Public consumption (6.7%), investment (8.3%) and household consumption (0.8%) are also expected to contribute to growth to a lesser extent.

While business confidence in the Territory remained positive over 2021 and early 2022, supported by the Territory’s successful response to COVID-19 and hardship measures for Territory businesses, the tourism and hospitality sectors continued to be impacted by lockdowns across Australia and international and domestic border restrictions. The vaccine program and removal of border restrictions in early 2022 is expected to lead to a gradual recovery for these industries.

Global demand and prices for minerals are expected to recover over the outlook period as industrial production increases and supply chain issues are resolved following the pandemic, although risks from geopolitical tensions remain. Locally, mining and manufacturing activity will be heavily influenced by liquefied natural gas (LNG) production from the Darwin LNG plant, which is expected to temporarily pause production in 2023-24 as the source of gas transitions from Bayu‑Undan to the Barossa field.

Public investment in water, land and housing infrastructure by the Territory Government, construction projects and population growth is expected to support the government and community services sector over the outlook. As Australia’s northernmost jurisdiction, the Territory is integral to the operational capability of the Australian Defence Force and is also expected to benefit from increased defence spending over the outlook as the Commonwealth looks to maintain Australia’s strategic presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Much of the benefit of increased defence and infrastructure spending across different levels of government will be felt in the construction industry as facilities and capability are upgraded.

Over the short term, dwelling investment is set to decline following record growth in 2020-21 due to low interest rates and a range of Territory and Commonwealth initiatives. Over the longer term, dwelling investment will be supported by improved land supply and housing construction as population growth picks up, leading to positive downstream impacts for the service, retail and wholesale trade industries.

Agriculture is expected to grow modestly over the outlook period, with the expansion of agricultural land and trialling of new crops in other regions, and investment in infrastructure and logistics hubs.

The reopening of borders, relaxation of domestic and international border restrictions, and the vaccine rollout is supporting the recovery of the Territory’s tourism industry over the outlook period, however the path to recovery is likely to vary within the industry. Domestic travel is expected to recover at a much faster pace than international travel.