US Navy to turn Darwin into security ‘hub’

Increased numbers of US naval ships could visit Australian waters more frequently after Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner held high-level talks at the Pentagon while on a trade mission to Washington.

Mr Gunner attended was joined by Defence Advocate Air Vice Marshal Margaret Staib, who spent two years working at the Pentagon, along with other NT government executives.

The group were keen to promote the Territory’s proximity to the Asian region and provide assurances the US Marines stationed in Darwin on annual six-month rotations were seen as a positive move.

“Darwin provides the perfect platform for engagement with the Asian region and America recognises that, and you’ll see through their defence strategy that they’re focusing very strongly on the Pacfic,” Air Vice Marshal Staib said. “They’re actually increasing their focus and presence in the Pacific … And that can only be good for Darwin.”

Air Vice Marshal Staib highlighted the ship lift facility as a huge drawcard to entice more American defence interaction, especially with the plan to make the NT a key defence and national security hub and the primary centre for maintenance.

“It’s very much a focal point of their defence strategy and of course that puts Darwin right in the centre of all that. So it will be really exciting to see how much activity is generated from that,” she said.

The Chief Minister is in Washington to join the Prime Minister and other state and territory leaders to attend the National Governor’s Association annual winter session.

Australia’s political leaders came together today to discuss investment opportunities in Australia with the chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies. Darwin-born Dow Chemical Company CEO Andrew Liveris played a chairing role during the get-together and reaffirmed his commitment to the NT.

“Andrew Liveris is a strong supporter of the NT,” Mr Gunner said.

“He sought me out, I was going to seek him out but he sought me out, which is always welcome. He said (at the meeting with the other CEOs) ‘I’m not sure I’m an American-Australia or an Australian-American’, but he’s definitely a Territorian.”

Also at the event was the CEO of Marriott International, the hotel chain which will operate Landbridge’s luxury Waterfront hotel. The Gunner government took the opportunity announce $7 million dollars would be invested to construct a public sky walk from the project to the CBD, a decision Mr Gunner says is worth it.

“We’re leveraging a $7 million investment into a $200 million hotel, so I think this is very important around getting that confidence and certainty around private investment and making these projects happen,” he said.

Landbridge will reveal its new revised hotel plans next weekend, with the hope of getting development consent approval in time to begin construction in the dry season.© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018