The Northern Territory remains the strongest performing jurisdiction within Australia in terms of construction activity compared with its long term averages, a new report says.

As work on the $34 billion Ichthys LNG Project continued to gather momentum, the April 2014 State of the States Report from Commonwealth Securities ranked the Territory as the number one state/territory in Australia in a comparison of the dollar value of construction work done during the December quarter of 2013 when compared with decade averages.

The Territory also led the way in terms of equipment investment and employment, and came second in retail spending and third in population growth.

Overall, Western Australia had the strongest performing economy amid leading results in retail trade, housing finance and population growth, whilst a surge in housing starts (39 percent above decade averages) saw New South Wales lead the way in new residential construction.

 commsec state of state report

Over the past year, conditions within the Northern Territory construction industry have been extremely strong as a surge in housing starts added to existing momentum brought about by the $34 billion Ichthys LNG Project in Darwin.

The total dollar value of work done ($1.741 billion, ABS seasonally adjusted estimate) during the December quarter came in at around three times levels typically seen before the start of the Ichthys Project and overall levels of employment (17,700) are up by more than half in the past three years.

Despite a decent range of significant dollar value developments in the pipeline, however, activity within the Territory is set to ease back in coming years as there are no mega projects to replace Ichthys as that that winds down whilst HIA expects housing start numbers to drop back below 1,700 by 2015.

At the other end of the scale, meanwhile, Tasmania remains the standout laggard, with the value of work done coming in at 12.2 percent below decade averages.

“In all states/territories except Tasmania, construction work is higher than decade averages” the ComSec report says. “And there remains a large gap between the strongest states (the resource states) and weakest states (Tasmania).”

The latest report comes as the most recent Performance of Construction Index shows an improving picture in residential and commercial building but weakening conditions in mining investment.