Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory, faces urban planning challenges consistent with those reported in 'resource peripheries' around the world. The city has recently experienced strong population growth associated with resources and construction projects, and an increase in public sector workers sent to address the challenges faced by remote (particularly Indigenous) populations. The Northern Territory Government is determined to foster further growth, and promotes 'major projects' in urban development as the key. Analysis of the public debates about two recent major projects (the Waterfront Development and the Lyons residential development) reveal a planning process consistent with the clientelism observed by Rayner and Howlett (2009) in resource peripheries in Canada. The risks of clientelism are both the marginalisation of important internal publics and the institutionalisation of 'temporariness' as the driver of growth. Shifting to a more consultative planning process might help stimulate internal development, but could also put at risk the relationships that the Northern Territory Government has established with external investors.