Government to offer incentives for NT move, as part of $50m population strategy
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Chief Minister Michael Gunner released the plan to create 21,000 jobs and add $10 billion to the economy over the next decade, which will start by giving financial aid to new Territorians in certain jobs, to help with living and moving costs.
That will be to the tune of $3,000 for individuals, $6,000 for couples and $7,000 for families.
"Just about every regional centre in Australia is trying to grow their population. It's a national trend," Mr Gunner said.
"We have to combat this — get the jump on our competitors — by having the edge. A clincher. Remove the barriers we know stop people taking the plunge.
"Moving costs are an example of such a barrier. We're going to break these barriers."
On top of immediate financial aid, all new Territorians will be eligible for a $1,250 local benefit bonus, to spend in the first two years on car and licence registration, child care and local businesses.
If people commit and make it past five years, they will also be eligible for another cash payment, the same value as the original figure, for singles, couples or families to spend as they wish.
"The total benefit for a family would be more than $15,000 over five years," Mr Gunner said.
"This is mounting a pretty strong case to make the move."
In total, the Government will spend nearly $14 million on the incentives, which will also be available for overseas migrants.
Registration for the financial bonus will open November 1 this year.
To receive a payment participants will first have to update their details through things like Medicare to become a "counted Territorian".
This will then allow the NT Government to receive about an extra $11,000 per person through the GST.
Strategy could create '21,000 jobs' during next 10 years
The Government said its goal is to return to a population growth rate of 1.4 per cent, more than double the current rate of 0.6 per cent.
That would require the NT to attract, or retain an extra 2,600 people a year.
If this growth is achieved, Mr Gunner said it would add about 21,000 jobs and more than $10 billion to the economy over the next decade.
In addition to the payments, there will also be a special strategy to attract both humanitarian and skilled migrants, particularly in countries like the Philippines, India, Nepal and New Zealand that already have established communities in the NT.
"But I want to be really clear: the welcome sign is up in the Northern Territory for all our welcome," he said.
"We're comfortable taking anyone from anywhere when it comes to humanitarian schemes, refugees, anyone coming into Australia should feel welcome here."
The NT Government will also launch it's "Territory Expat Program", a database to keep in touch with former Territorians.
Mr Gunner said this would allow them to make former Territorians aware of emerging opportunities, in the hope they may return or convince others to give the NT a go.
The Government said it plans to negotiate a new agreement with the Commonwealth to allow Territory employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled workers in areas experiencing shortages.
The financial incentives are just one arm of the $50 million population strategy, which also includes $4.6 million for the Government's recently announced marketing strategy "Boundless Possible".
But how to attract one of its key target demographics, early career women, still seems unknown, with the Government saying it will commission further research on how to attract and retain them.
The ABC asked a number of people in Melbourne whether the new incentives would entice them to make the move north.
"From Victoria? It'd have to be a lot, because it'd cost a lot to move up there. I think about $30,000 — if they offered me that I'd move up to the Northern Territory," one woman said.
Another woman called Sue whose son once lived in Darwin said she would not take the offer.
"No. Darwin's a wonderful place, I love Kakadu, I love Litchfield, all those areas … but I just don't like the weather," she said.
Another agreed it would simply be too hot.
"Maybe the political situation as well. From what I know of the Northern Territory it's not quite as friendly to the LGBT community as I would like," she said.
Another man said he would only consider it if "there was an economic downturn in Victoria", while a woman said she's consider it if she was paid "a fair bit".
"Like a fair bit, a fair bit to be fair. Definitely have my roots in Melbourne so it'd be a big change. But yeah, a solid grand, a couple of grand," she said.
"I'd miss the city, I'd miss the diversity of the place. I'm not sure what it's like up there, but Melbourne's super diverse and there's lots going for it. There's stuff on all the time, I'm not sure if they'd have that up there."
Another girl said she'd consider it for "half-a-mill".
Another man said he'd consider it if there was good community lifestyle.
"In Northern Territory you might not find too many Indians walking down the street. It's not a major concern, but it's something that could worry us," he said.
"As long as I have the opportunity to continue my contribution to cricket on the weekends … The remuneration is the last thing I'm looking at, it's my lifestyle."
'Do I get money to stay?'
On Facebook, opinions were divided but many locals were asking why they would miss out, given they already lived here.
Why not put this money into aged care and keep the facilities open in places like Mullewa. If people wish to move towns they will do it themselves. — Val Gray
And yet those of us slugging it out through the tough times get nothing? — Kristine R Priore
Great idea, the NT needs more ppl with optimism to drown out the keyboard warriors. The "Cup in hand/poor us/what do we get"mentality is getting so old! — Rick Knight
Love Darwin love NT. I'll move there tomorrow — Mystina Corey McCabe-Spong
Moved away a while ago and saved $20k per year … — Darryl Chenoweth
What do the current residents get? How about looking after the current people who love living and working here — Elora Rosenwald
Give the people already here a reason to stay. Make living affordable and you wont have a population issue — Liz Statham
I'm already here. Do I get money to stay? — Matt Atfield
GEORGIA HITCH - ABC News - http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/population-strategy-northern-territory-financial-incentives/10152126