Proposed NT gas mega-projects will crowd out jobs and non-gas businesses


Australia Institute analysis shows the benefits of gas development in the NT have been overstated, and that gas development will crowd out jobs in other industries.

Key points

  • Gas projects crowd out jobs and businesses in non-gas-related industries.
  • Gas projects lead to poor social and economic outcomes for local communities.
  • The gas industry is a small employer, employing around 0.7% of the NT workforce, and around 0.2% nationally.
  • Gas is a low-job-intensity industry, employing 0.2 workers per million dollars of output, compared to more than eight jobs in education, health, administration, or tourism.
  • The Northern Territory Government is misrepresenting headline economic figures on gas development.
  • The two largest NT-based gas projects, INPEX’s Ichthys and Santos’ Darwin LNG paid 0% and 1.5% of their income in FY 2021 in company tax (the most recent year of ATO data) and neither pay royalties to the NT or federal governments.
  • Royalty revenue from onshore gas would be modest, adding a few per cent of NT budget revenue at the most

“People deserve independent analysis of the health and economic impacts of gas development in the Territory. So far, this debate has been dominated by the gas industry and their consultants,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Adviser at the Australia Institute.

“Some politicians and commentators present a cargo cult view of gas development: that it simply adds jobs and economic activity to the existing economy. In reality, gas development largely comes at the expense of jobs and economic activity in non-gas-related industries.

“Gas is often seen as a big employer in the NT, mostly because the gas industry talks so much about how many people they employ. In reality, they are a tiny employer, while industries like health, education and services do the heavy lifting on job creation.

“Gas companies operating in the NT pay very little in taxes or royalties but receive enormous taxpayer subsidies. What the territory needs is industries that contribute rather than just seeking ever more subsidies.

“Economic modelling commissioned by the Northern Territory Government’s Fracking Inquiry found all the jobs from fracking in the Beetaloo Basin would be offset by job losses in other industries in the NT and nationally. Gas is a net zero jobs industry.”

Related research