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'Lead me to the harbour!': Plotting Darwin Harbour's future course

By John Coyne and Teagan Westendorf

In this report, authors Dr John Coyne and Dr Teagan Westendorf seek to move Australia’s public policy discourse on the future of Darwin Port beyond a binary choice. In doing so, they consider the Harbour’s history, the nature of its strategic importance to Australia and our allies, and opportunities for its future development.

The report explores four potential options for the future development of the Port and Harbour. Rather than providing a specific policy treatment on the current leasing arrangements, this work focuses on promoting policy discourse on a unifying vision for the future of Darwin Harbour.

A key insight from this analysis is that this moment is an opportunity for the federal government to work with the Northern Territory Government to harness the existing plans for the Port’s future, including those proposed by Defence, the US and the NT Government, and embed those plans within the broader strategic vision for Australia moving forward. While each of these worthy plans undoubtedly has merit, the question is whether, by carefully harnessing them together, they could produce a greater economic and national security whole.