NORTHERN Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said bold and innovative action was needed in the next few years to ensure this nation-building opportunity delivered real benefits to the national economy.

“Developing Northern Australia will increase national prosperity and help ensure Australia’s position among the world’s top economies,” he said.

“Through sustainable and responsible development, we have an opportunity to increase future government revenues and reduce welfare expenditure, redirecting taxpayer funds to improve services, infrastructure and quality of life for all of Australia.”

Mr Giles said the Northern Territory was in an ideal position because of its central location between the booming Asian economies and Australia’s well developed and supported South.

“The North has many natural advantages relating to agriculture, mining, energy and tourism,” he said.

“As well as its naturally occurring advantages, the North is already pursuing emerging service industries in areas such as international education, tropical health and defence support.

“With its natural resources, large undeveloped land mass and its pro-development attitude, Northern Australia is positioned to increasingly contribute to Australia’s prosperity.”

Mr Giles said a national partnership to develop the North unprecedented opportunity to secure the vital infrastructure was needed to drive the Northern Territory forward.

“We’ve made a case for needing new infrastructure and called for the Federal Government to help fund extensions to the rail network and a second port,” he said.

“We’ve also called for funding for a national gas grid to connect the Northern Territory to the rest of the country.

“Developing the North is a truly nation building project that will increase national prosperity and future-proof Australia’s position among the world’s top economies. The time for investment in the north is now.”

A key to that investment is at the Northern Territory’s Charles Darwin University, which recently secured new equipment valued at $800,000 for its process engineering training facilities.

The equipment will be used by undergraduate and postgraduate students, and researchers working in the fields of minerals and oil and gas processing at the university’s North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas (NACOG).

NACOG Deputy Director Daria Surovtseva said the 24 pieces of laboratory-scale equipment, including distillation and extraction columns, crystallisers and chemical reactors, would place CDU at the forefront of process and chemical engineering training in Australia.

“CDU has one of the most comprehensive process engineering training set-ups in Australia,” Dr Surovtseva said.

“We are now able to educate students about the physics and chemistry behind mineral and oil and gas processing, and which processes should be chosen in various situations.

“The equipment has been constructed from plastic or glass to allow for process visualisation.

“Understanding how to start up, shut down, monitor, troubleshoot and optimise processes will ensure our graduates are prepared for work in the mining, oil and gas industries.”

CDU has been offering undergraduate process engineering programs since March 2012, and introduced a degree in chemical engineering in 2013.

Some $300,000 worth of equipment was provided by Dow Chemical, while CDU has received support from the Northern Territory Government, INPEX, Total, Conoco Phillips and Eni for the NACOG facility.