Speaking at a two-day defence summit in Darwin, the Chief Minister said the ongoing national investment in Defence over the next decade under the 2016 Defence White Paper will deliver economic benefits to the NT.
“Defence and northern development are inseparable, just as northern development and Aboriginal participation is inseparable," he said.
“It is a fundamental shift in Northern Territory industry away from the boom and bust, away from that next big thing, and to a more diversified economy. It means the population growth the territory so sorely needs."
The Chief Minister said the "wide-open spaces and wide-ranging landscapes and weather" make the territory an ideal place for equipment testing, training, trials and military research.
Chief Minister Gunner also spoke about the ample opportunity the territory has to create a space exploration hub.
"We could be launching rockets into space from Arnhem Land within a year," he said
"That most magical part of the world, home to the most ancient people, the most ancient stories, the most ancient languages, will soon be a seat for the extreme edges of engineering capability."
"The global space industry is growing rapidly and it’s crucial that Australia is part of this growth,” said federal Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash.
"A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic, long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry.
"The agency will be the anchor for our domestic co-ordination and the front door for our international engagement."
A location on the national space agency is yet to be decided.
Earlier this year South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr signed a five-year agreement on behalf of their governments, signalling an intent to work together towards the creation of a Canberra-based agency with a prominent presence in Adelaide.
"South Australia and the ACT are committed to the developing a space agency in Australia, and Adelaide will play a key part," Premier Weatherill said.
"The space sector has enormous growth potential and is a perfect fit for South Australia, given our national leadership in other high-tech industries including defence, renewable energy, IT and advanced manufacturing. Just like those industries, the space sector will provide opportunities for traditional manufacturers to transition to a high-tech, high growth sector."
Defence SA worked closely with the ACT to develop the agreement, which has come about after SA and the ACT presented a joint paper at the COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting in Canberra, outlining ways to expand the nation’s space industry through education, research and industry-led initiatives.
SA and the ACT said the agreement reflects both jurisdictions’ commitment to ensuring all of Australia can participate in the international space industry, which produces revenue of $420 billion annually.