'Historic agreement to strengthen SA-NT bond'


p2113-Michael-Gunnerp2445 Jay Weatherill 150By ERWIN CHLANDA
A historic agreement between South Australia and the Northern Territory will usher in a new era of collaboration that will benefit both sides of the border, according to a joint statement by NT Chief Minster Michael Gunner (at right) and SA Premier Jay Weatherill (at left).
They will sign a strategic partnership agreement at a joint meeting of SA and NT cabinet ministers in Alice Springs today, “an Australian first”.
The statement says: “The agreement goes beyond traditional cooperation between states and territories, and will provide the foundation for collaboration and joint investment in mutual priorities, and a united voice on the Federal stage across a number of policy areas.”
The statement names five priorities for the first year of the agreement:-
• Critical road infrastructure upgrades to better support transport between jurisdictions.
• An international engagement, trade and investment action plan including collaboration on joint international trade missions.
• Further development of the Explorers Way as an iconic Australian tourism experience, which will have a firm connection to the Territory’ s $100m Iconic National Indigenous Art Trail initiative, including a National Indigenous Art Gallery project in Alice Springs.
• Supporting the development of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, particularly those in regional and remote areas.
• Joint implementation and national advocacy to create high-quality disability services, regional jobs and business opportunities through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement will replace the existing Memorandum of Understanding, says the statement.
“It will provide a more structured approach to the implementation of priority initiatives and will focus on delivering real benefits for citizens in both jurisdictions.
“Under this collaborative new approach, both first ministers will meet every year to set the priorities for the next 12 months.
“The new agreement will elevate the bilateral relationship between SA and NT to a more strategic and ambitious level, setting the high watermark of interjurisdictional collaboration and cooperative federalism in Australia.”
Mr Weatherill says SA and NT “have a strong history of cooperation, shared cultures and regions and combined strengths.
“This agreement recognises that as governments change, progress towards achieving mutually beneficial outcomes should not be stalled.”
Mr Gunner says: “This partnership agreement brings a level of cooperation that is unprecedented in Australian history.
“It represents a new way forward for Federation in this nation, but significantly will pave the way for the delivery of outcomes that will benefit Territorians well into the future and beyond political cycles.”
The priority areas will “focus on further developing our joint tourism products, critical road infrastructure and support to our most disadvantaged remote and regional communities.”


  1. This is great news. NT is simply too small an economic unit to be viable in its own right. Any way of sharing costs with SA is worth pursuing.
    In the end, we should consider re-integrating NT and SA.
    If we did this, the “new” state would be a more significant member of the federation. Darwin would be the new state’s second city and Alice Springs would vie with Mount Gambier to be its third city.
    We could contemplate major solar power and possibly gas fired power stations in or around Alice Springs with a super conducting power connection to the eastern power grid via Adelaide.
    We could integrate, for example, our education and health systems under a single management structure with big savings in overhead costs.
    We could even have a team or two in the SANFL.
    This initiative is only a start but it’s one we need to fully support.

  2. Maybe it’s the sceptic in me, but it sounds like a lot of words and good intentions promoted to the public in order to placate the masses and give the appearance of something happening.
    I hope I am wrong, but as I said, maybe it’s the sceptic in me.

  3. See also my comment “NT-SA agreement hardly historic”.
    @ Tony Hambleton (Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:52 am): There have been several occasions when re-integration of the NT with SA have been suggested – and invariably fiercely rejected by both sides of politics in the NT. Notwithstanding this, the legislation transferring control of the NT from South Australia to the Commonwealth remains on the statutes, and it is theoretically legally possible for this agreement to be revoked.
    It’s also worth recalling that South Australia continued to provide government services to the NT during the time of Commonwealth control, especially in the field of education; and even as late as the 1980s oversaw Year 12 matriculation examinations in the NT.
    @ Michael Dean (Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm): Your scepticism is warranted, and history clearly shows your assessment of this agreement is likely to be accurate.

  4. Terrific idea – well worth checking out given there are no big taxpayer bucks at risk and we share so much more in common with South Australia. The east coast might as well be on another planet.

  5. Does this mean that TV stations will now feature news from South Australia rather than the east coast?
    I suspect that most people in Alice Springs travel North – South and engage with South Aussie, but Queensland not so much.

  6. Strewth. Hitching the NT’s economic wagon to South Australia, a failed state running on empty, where the lights go out regularly.
    The strongest source of wind power is the Greens’ hot air in the SA Parliament. Sounds a bit like a death wish perhaps?

  7. I doubt it will ever be (and hope it doesnt happen Tony) but if we did integrate with SA to form a new state then Darwin should be the capital and Alice the third city. So much untapped potential with both.
    Besides! Adelaide who?
    Federal infrastructure and services should never be hampered by state boundaries. We have had a century and more of jurisdictional inefficiencies in transport, education and health just to name a few areas of concern. Collaboration and unity is the best outcome.
    How about joining ranks with WA and Qld for the Outback Way, too?

  8. People who think SA is a failed state need to look at NT and WA.
    At present, SA is way ahead of these two. Sure SA has had power problems because they are at the head of the pack as we move to a new energy future.
    Don’t think for a moment that Victoria and NSW have no energy problems, especially as coal has a limited life ahead of it. And Queensland doesn’t look so hot now that the Adani project is in doubt.
    I look at SA’s power problems as an opportunity and not a threat.
    Would you rather have an energy inefficient gas pipe from NT to Adelaide with generators in Adelaide or a superconducting power cable carrying solar and gas power generated in Central Australia conducted to SA?


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