My journey to Darwin, Australia

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(2nd, L) Australia's Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles

I went on an interesting trip to Australia's Northern Territory in November at the invitation of Chief Minister Adam Giles.

Darwin immediately stood out on the itinerary map. The city is situated in the far north, functioning as a key gateway to Asia.

Darwin, with only 130,000 people or more than half of Northern Territory's total population, is a place of great potential.

A deep-water sea port, two international airports, and huge shopping malls in the city puts it on a par with other crowded urban areas elsewhere and gives a false impression about its population.

Northern Territory has vast resources, including large deposits of uranium, copper, gold, phosphate, potash, lead, and vanadium. Oil and gas are also key commodities.

Some 2,000 Vietnamese live and work there and, according to Foxy Robinson, a Darwin billionaire, their farms and businesses have contributed a lot to the territory's agriculture.

There is still a growing demand for Vietnamese in the territory, arguably stronger than it is in Victoria or New South Wales.

Nguyen Ngoc My, chairman of the Vietnam-Australia Building Industry Services Ltd., said his school, Vabis International Vocational College in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, had trained and sent 12 workers to Sydney and Melbourne and their salaries were above AU$60,000.

His plan is to provide more advanced training in machinery, port management, oil and gas, and accounting to Vietnamese students and exchange skilled human resources with the Northern Territory and Charles Darwin University.

He said hopefully hundreds of workers would be sent to Australia under these initiatives. More than US$10 billion worth of remittances flow into Vietnam every year and most of this comes from overseas workers.

Vabis International Vocational College will recruit from rural areas in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, and Ha Tinh Provinces. Graduates will have a chance to study further and work in Australia, especially in fields that Vietnam needs to develop and Australia is good at.

Minister for Education Peter Chandler said the territory aims to increase its population to 300,000 from the current 240,000, and would try to attract more workers from Vietnam.

From Vietnam, we flew to Singapore then to Darwin. It was a comfortable flight, only six hours, since Darwin is not too far.

Darwin has shipped 80,000 cows to Vietnam this year. Many Vietnamese businesses are working closely with Australian partners to bring cows and modern farming techniques to Vietnam to cater to the demand for high quality beef, which is growing in Vietnam and other Asian countries.

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