November 2015

Review of red tape for non-government organisations

On 23 September 2015 the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Advisory Council was established to oversee a review of red tape in the NGO sector. The newly formed council will be reporting back to government mid-year 2016. The council members are experienced in the Northern Territory’s NGO sector, with representatives from each region of the NT.

Read more on the NGO Advisory Council.

New measures to provide regulatory certainty about onshore oil and gas development

A new range of measures has been announced which will provide regulatory certainty, thereby reducing costs. The measures address community concerns about onshore oil and gas development.

  1. The NT Government has made it clear that petroleum titles will not be granted in areas of the kind mentioned below:
    • Urban living areas including rural residential areas - where land is not zoned, but the land use is consistent with these purposes, oil and gas activities will not be permitted.
    • Areas of intensive agriculture - the Department of Mines and Energy will assess the compatibility of land use, however oil and gas activities will not take place on areas such as melon farms, mango orchards and aquaculture operations.
    • Areas of high ecological value - as determined through the NT's robust environmental assessment process.
    • Areas of cultural significance as advised by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority - there is no change for Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights or Native Title Acts.
    • Areas that include assets of strategic importance to nearby residential areas - including areas with high potential for other uses such as tourism related development around Bitter Springs at Mataranka.
  2. The NT Government has introduced a new process for land access agreements for mining and petroleum exploration activities. The new process requires the negotiation of a land access agreement between proponents and pastoralists prior to the commencement of a work program.
  3. The government has also decided that mining and petroleum activities will now be the subject of the Water Act, which will strengthen the management and protection of the Territory’s water resources. Removing the Water Act exemption will ensure that water used by the mining and petroleum industries is incorporated into the Territory’s overall water allocation and planning framework.

Find out more on the Department of Mines and Energy website

Reforms to the NT’s Environmental Regulatory Framework 

The Northern Territory Government has commenced structural reform to its environmental assessment and approval process to provide regulatory certainty for major projects and pave the way for a One-Stop-Shop for Commonwealth - NT environmental approvals. The new regulatory setting will have the following features:

  • A single point of entry for proponents in the key sectors of construction and mining, oil and gas - by allowing the sectoral approval legislation and procedures used by agencies to be accredited by the independent NT Environmental Protection Authority. The relevant portfolio minister to make the approval.
  • For other sectors, the Minister for the Environment will make the approval.
  • A strengthened audit and compliance role for the NT Environment Protection Authority.
  • Clarity for the roles of government agencies and the NT Environment Protection Authority in the system.
  • Transparent public reporting by proponents on compliance with environmental conditions.
  • Minister for the Environment to give proponents and the community certainty by publishing policies and procedures.

Find out more on the NT EPA website.

October 2015

Removal of NT WorkSafe as a reporting authority

Amendments to the Building Regulations, effective on 1 November 2015, removes NT WorkSafe as a reporting authority for building certifiers. Schedule 2 of the Building Regulations sets out the authorities that a building certifier must contact and seek a report. The amendment means that certifiers are no longer required to seek a report from NT WorkSafe prior to deciding on an application for a building or occupancy permit. 

Commercial passenger vehicles cosmetic checks removed

Checks on cosmetic standards for commercial passenger vehicles (CPV) at the MVR have been removed from September 2015. Changes to the annual roadworthy inspections for CPV including enabling CPV operators to choose to have inspections through private industry and the removal of the cosmetic standard checks from the annual inspection. This enables tourism operators greater choice and flexibility in where / what time their vehicle inspections take place, helps to alleviate long wait times at the MVR and ensures that the focus of an annual inspection is on the key priorities of vehicle standards and safety.

September 2015

New Tourism Advisory Council to review red tape

The Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) will oversee a review of red tape in the Tourism sector. The council will identify and offer solutions to reduce the red tape burden on the tourism sector. The establishment of the council is an initiative of the NTG Red Tape Reduction Strategy to target specific sectors to improve the regulatory and compliance framework of the sector. The council comprises 10 representatives from the following regions: Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, East Arnhem and Tennant Creek. 

The review will produce a final report including recommendations to the Minister for Business in early 2016 for government’s consideration to:

  • increase regulatory certainty, including clarity of regulatory requirements and agencies’ administrative requirements
  • improve the timeliness of government regulatory and administrative processes
  • improve the responsiveness of regulators and government agencies
  • reduce costs to industry participants, including identifying any unnecessary regulatory or administrative requirements
  • improve interaction between businesses / individuals in the sector and Northern Territory Government agencies
  • simplify and reduce duplication and overlaps in regulatory, or administrative arrangements.

New non-government organisation funding guidelines

The NT Government Good Practice Guidelines for Funding Non-Government Organisations aims to reduce red tape by providing greater clarity and certainty for NGOs as to government funding practices. They set the context for the provision of funding to service providers and establish fundamental principles and good practice guidelines that can be applied to funding practices across all NT Government agencies. The Good Practice Guidelines aims to ensure accountability and to achieve quality and value, provide stability of service provision and better outcomes for clients and communities, to monitor the delivery and results of a service against the agreed outcomes. For more information please refer to non-government organisations

Remote Engagement and Coordination Strategy

Remote Engagement and Coordination Strategy to be implemented as a best practice framework for NT Government agencies that interact with remote communities. The strategy will reduce duplication of community visits and streamline the engagement practices of government staff working in remote communities. This approach will ensure the information gathered from meetings will be shared amongst all the other agencies, so locals and their issues will be heard and understood effectively. Currently the strategy is looking at including an electronic issues tracking system to capture and record community priorities and an interactive online toolkit for public servants outlining best practice engagement techniques. The interactive online toolkit will include practical, information, tips, guidance and advice on working with remote communities. To view the strategy visit Remote Engagement and Coordination Strategy.

Waterfowl permits extended to five years and now available online

The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory has extended the term of the waterfowl permit. The permit is now available with options of one to five years. Already 735 five-year permits have been issued and 213 one-year permits have been issued. The waterfowl permit application and payment is now available online ensuring a fast and efficient process. One year permits are $20, while five year permits are $80, offering a saving to customers. For more information and to apply online please visit wildlife permits.

August 2015

Directors Liability reform

The Statute Law Amendment (Directors’ Liability) Act 2015 amends 40 Northern Territory Acts and two Regulations to align with national agreed reforms for director’s (‘executive officers’) liability provisions in legislation.

Over 900 Director Liability offences have been removed and the level of liability has been reduced for over 240 offences.

The Directors Liability reform removes an excessively risk averse approach to regulation and frees up companies and not-for-profits to be more productive.

The reforms aim to apply a balanced, risk-based approach to regulation by ensuring that a director is not liable for corporate fault unless they have personally assisted in the commission of an offence, or been negligent or reckless in relation to the corporation’s offending. The reforms also create national consistency for simplicity and clarity for corporations operating across jurisdictions.

Consistent and fair liability provisions will improve productivity and enhance a risk assessment based approach by providing guidelines on what minimum standards of due diligence are expected to avoid prosecution. Directors are freed up to focus on ways to improve value, competitiveness and profitability.

These reforms apply to Directors of body corporates as defined in the Commonwealth’s Corporations Act and will benefit thousands of businesses in the NT including:

  • small private companies
  • charities (if incorporated under the Corporations Act)
  • not-for-profit organisations (if incorporated under the Corporations Act), and
  • public companies.

Removal of 90m height limits in Darwin City

Amendments to the NT Planning Scheme removes the 90m height limit on buildings in Darwin City. Restrictions remain on buildings on The Esplanade and the south-western side of Mitchell Street. Potential developers will need to seek prior consent from the Department of Defence, Darwin International Airport and the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional development before seeking approval through the normal NT planning system.

Darwin Waterfront precinct is outside the Darwin City zone and will not be affected by the amendments.

Find out more on the Darwin city centre building height control

New development guidelines for Northern Territory controlled roads

The Department of Transport has developed new guidelines that make it easier for developers to identify and understand obligations and requirements where construction and development may impact the Territory’s road network, including physical infrastructure, traffic, operation, management, capacity and safety.

By streamlining the development approval process, developers, builders, design consultants and government officials now have clarity and consistency of information on a range of permits, approvals and processes that may be required. The guidelines also outline how the Department of Transport collaborates with the Department of Lands, Planning and Environment.

Last year (2014/15) the Department of Transport processed 891 development approvals.

View who manages a road in the NT and the development guidelines for Northern Territory Controlled Roads.

Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority applications now online

Applications for an Authority Certificate are now available to download online from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority website. Making it easier to find information and save time, the website provides links to fact sheets and application forms to help people and organisations proposing development on Aboriginal sacred sites. The website provides fact sheets on information registering sacred sites and authority certificates, and the relevant application forms. Information on fees and charges is also available.

View the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority website.

July 2015

Cutting costs for hotels and clubs - electronic gaming machine licences can now be transferred

From 1 July 2015, electronic gaming machine licences (EGM) can be transferred to a new entity or substituted to a new venue with the related liquor licence. This removes a cost and barrier to the transfer of a business or corporate restructure, and provides greater options for business growth by creating the opportunity to move both liquor and gaming licences to a new venue. Previously, a business had to hand back gaming machine licences to Licensing NT but could transfer or substitute the related liquor licence. This reform also allows business owners who are seeking to sell their business or restructure to retain / realise the value of the EGM licences.

Food business registrations now online with SmartForm

Over 2,300 food businesses can now apply for, renew and pay for registration online with a SmartForm, saving time. Also prefills business details if you are the holder of an Australian Business Account. Previously, payment could only be via phone, post or in person at the Receiver of Territory Monies (cheques and cash).

Apply online.

Occupational licence approval times reduced - police history name checks now at Territory Business Centres

In collaboration with Police Fire and Emergency Services’s SafeNT, Territory Business Centres now have access to CrimTrac allowing it to deliver to applicants a quicker issuance of licences for a range of occupations, significantly reducing approval times. Licences affected are those which require a police history name check, starting with: Bookmaker Key Employee renewal, Tobacco Retail new, Tobacco Retail renewal, Tobacco Retail transfer and Tobacco Retail Change of Manager, with more to come.

The Department of Business has improved ‘over the counter services’ to the business community and reduced turnaround times. The following licences are now issued by the Territory Business Centres (TBC) with name checks performed by TBC accessing the CrimTrac system. Auctioneer new, Bookmaker Permit renewal, Casino Operative renewal, Gaming Machine Manager and Repairer renewal, Commercial and Private Agents Individual / Corporation new and renewal, Continuing Special Liquor new and renewal, Escorts Grant of Manager and Operator Licence renewal, Motor Vehicle Dealer Manager, Private Security Crowd Controller and Security renewal, Property Agents, Security Firm renewal, Secondhand Dealer and Pawnbroker new and renewal, Dangerous Goods Drivers Licence, Shot Firer Blasting renewal and Shot Firer Special Effects and Fire Work Display renewal.

Easier to monitor changes in regulation for Department of Business

Department of Business will commence any changes to its legislation and regulations at only four times throughout the year: 1 January, 1 April, 1 July, 1 October, making it easier for businesses, individuals and non-government organisations to monitor and plan for changes in regulatory requirements.

June 2015

Stamp duty exemptions and reforms

  • Stamp duty exemption on gifts of motor vehicles by parents to children now includes stepchildren.
  • Stamp duty exemption on health insurance now includes policies held by overseas students and temporary visa holders.
  • New exemption for creation of trusts for sale and trusts for partition. Removes a barrier to use these trusts where there is a relationship breakdown between co-owners.
  • New pro rata concession where there is a conveyance of property under a trust for sale back to one of the original co-owners.
  • Abolish stamp duty for life insurance.
  • Simpler residential requirements for first home owner grants, principal place of residence and the senior, pensioner and carer stamp duty concessions. For example, assists NT workers who have to work remotely and are away from home for periods of time.
  • Increased stamp duty concession from $8,500 to $10,000 for seniors, pensioners and carers. Improves housing affordability and reduces a barrier for Territorians downsizing or finding more appropriate homes.
  • Abolished stamp duty for Fidelity Fund certificates of insurance under the Building Act.

Read more in the Treasury Revenue Circular - RC-GEN-16.

Reducing barriers to energy market competition

Enacted legislation to move progressively to national energy market regulation.

Read more on the Department of Treasury and Finance website.

Easier to apply for and manage environmental protection licences

New NT EPA Online allows for online applications for new licenses, amendments and renewals. Multiple licenses can be managed under one account. Business no longer have to manage multiple licenses separately or physically complete separate forms every time they need their licence reissued.

Read the full media release on the NT EPA launches an easier way to apply for licences.

Cutting red tape for co-ops

National co-operatives reforms will make it easier for co-operatives carrying out business across a state or territory border. Co-operatives will now be able to do so without the costly process of registering in each jurisdiction.

Smaller co-operatives will also benefit through simplified financial reporting to members and removing the obligation to lodge publicly available accounts.

May 2015

NT fishing app

A new fishing app, NT Fishing Mate, has been developed to make life simpler for anglers by offering a quick one stop guide to the new fishing rules.

Read the full media release on the New fishing app.

Receive licence and car registration renewals online

Northern Territory residents can now choose to receive their licence and car registrations renewals securely and electronically via Australia Post, thanks to a new partnership with the Motor Vehicle Registry.

Read the full media release on Register to pay your bills online.

Pharmacy led immunisation pilot to commence

A 12-month pilot, which will allow appropriately trained NT pharmacists to administer vaccines to eligible adults will begin in June 2015, leading to increased access and greater flexibility for people who require vaccines.

Read the full media release on Pharmacy led immunisation pilot to commence.

April 2015

Tour operator permits extended to five years 

Tour operators now have the options of one, three and five year tour operator permits to conduct tours in NT managed parks and reserves. This provides an administrative saving for those operators who take up the three and five year options.

Read more on permits for tour operators in parks

General Construction Induction Training (White Card)

Changes have made to introduce flexibility to the delivery of the General Construction Induction Training, so that it may be completed in a shorter time, saving time for employees and their employers. Cardholder information is now located in a central database held by NT WorkSafe rather than being held by registered training organisations making it easier to obtain new and replacement cards through Territory Business Centres.

Read the NT WorkSafe bulletin on General Construction Industry Training.

Local Government reforms

The recent Local Government Legislation Amendment Act will reduce overhead costs for councils, and provides flexibility in the way they conduct by-elections. Changes are:

  • extending the period in which casual vacancies can be filled by appointment, rather than a by-election, to 18 months before a general election
  • providing councils with the flexibility to choose to conduct by-elections themselves, engage an external electoral service provider or use the services of the Northern Territory Electoral Commission
  • allowing municipal councils to choose to conduct by-elections by postal voting only
  • transferring the jurisdiction of the Local Government Tribunal to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Read the full media release on the Local Government Legislation Amendment Bill.

Extension to Shotfirer Licence term

The Shotfirer Licence term has been extended from one year to five years, removing the need for annual renewals and saving paperwork for approximately 323 licensees. The price for a licence remains the same ($11).

Download the application for a Shotfirers Licence from the NT WorkSafe website.

March 2015

Less paperwork for commercial activities permits

Applicants for permits to conduct commercial activities in NT managed parks and reserves are no longer required to supply copies of certificates / licences related to food handling, liquor licences, etc. The requirement to hold these certificates and licences remains but applicants are not required to supply copies.

Find out more on the permits for businesses in parks.

Automotive industry review

A review has commenced into the automotive industry to investigate business growth opportunity, consumer protections and regulatory options to support the sector.

Read the full media release on the Automotive Industry Review

PowerWater bills go online

PowerWater is offering the convenience of eBilling to receive and pay your bills online anytime, anywhere via your mobile, tablet or computer.

Read more information on paperless billing.

Streamlining assistance for Territorians

The Northern Territory Government signed a new set of principles with non-government organisations that will reduce their reporting burden.

Read more information on non-government organisations.

Deconstructing red tape

The Northern Territory Government is calling on registered builders to provide feedback on how we can reduce red tape in the construction and development sector.

Read more on the construction and development industry review.

Share your ideas on how we can further reduce red tape to support your business