Subjects: Darwin City Deal, infrastructure investment, Tiger Brennan Drive.
MEL LITTLE: Welcome to the Northern Territory Albo. We are glad to have you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s always good to be here, but particularly good to be here because it has been so bloody cold down south. It’s a beautiful day here. My wife was quite upset with me for coming up and I rubbed it in last night when it was zero in Sydney.
ALBANESE: It’s been really cold. It’s a beautiful morning here of course and we had the Ports Australia conference last night. We had dinner outside of the Convention Centre there and it was just gorgeous. I am very jealous of all of you. I’m jealous of my mate Luke.
LITTLE: It’s a beautiful time of year. I don’t know whether you have heard, but we are throwing out a few incentives for people to move to the Top End so if you would like a little bit of coin maybe let us know, we could find you a spot.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s a great place to live and a great lifestyle. I actually have quite a few friends who have moved up here over the years and have settled here and they are all very, very happy with their choice in life.
LITTLE: Well we are happy to have them. We are kind of happy to have you in our city at the moment. I am hoping you can ruffle a few feathers and maybe make our new Prime Minister come good with the City Deal.
ALBANESE: Well it has been now 498 days since it was promised and not a dollar has flowed – nothing at all. And indeed it’s pretty disappointing that ministers have come and gone but none of them have actually delivered. So certainly it’s not without the enormous pressure that Luke Gosling puts on. He raises it in Parliament just about every week and puts pressure on the Government to actually deliver. I am driving along – with well Luke is driving, I am sitting next to him – on the Tiger Brennan Drive at the moment. When I was the Minister of course we came up and delivered many hundreds of millions of dollars to fix up infrastructure here around Darwin. We did Tiger Brennan. We did an upgrade of the port. We did an upgrade, a revitalisation of the CBD and around the waterfront precinct got money.
ALBANESE: But there’s a drought of course in lots of Australia, but there is a drought when it comes to dollars coming into Darwin from the Federal Government.
LITTLE: It looks that way. Would you agree that the City Deal was sort of something shiny to distract us from the fact that they were cutting other investments?
ALBANESE: Well I think it is. When you look at the figures, this year the Northern Territory will get $222 million for infrastructure. That falls each and every year across the Forwards down to $61 million in 2021-22. So they are taking three in every four dollars essentially away from the Territory. And that means that other projects that they have announced, like the Central Arnhem Road and others, where the funding is all off into the Never Never. Now this Government’s struggling to survive on a week-by-week basis.
LITTLE: Yes. It seems that way.
ALBANESE: The idea of making promises for something in five years’ time is just absurd and you can see the difference that investment makes. I can see it literally driving on it right now and the difference that has made not just to travel times between Palmerston and the Darwin CBD, but of course road safety as well. Literally, it saves lives.
LITTLE: It does indeed. Unfortunately in the Northern Territory our road toll at the moment isn’t great. We are actually, I think, above anybody else in the nation, which is not a number that we are proud of.
ALBANESE: Yes that’s right and we need to bring it down. I can report that Luke Gosling is a very good driver though.
LITTLE: Don’t pump up his tyres.
ALBANESE: A great local member but a good driver. I am just saying good. I’m not saying great. Because what you want is good drivers who stick to the speed limit and obey the road rules. You don’t want anything fancy.
LITTLE: I don’t think he’d be brave enough to do anything silly while he’s got the Shadow Minister for Transport sitting next to him.
ALBANESE: Exactly. I’d have to report him.
LITTLE: Brilliant stuff. And so what is going to happen in Palmy today? What are you doing?
ALBANESE: Well we are catching up with the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor and some of the other business leaders …
ALBANESE: … and others. We are having a bit of a lunch at Rydges there.
LITTLE: Oh, gorgeous.
ALBANESE: After we have a meeting, so it’s all good. I always try to get out and about when I am in this fine city and one of the things that attracts people to come here is just people are really welcoming. I really always find that. It’s a really good culture here of people just coming up and saying G’day. I had a beer before the dinner last night with Hendo at a pub in the CBD and people were just coming up and chatting to him and chatting to me. It’s a good thing.
LITTLE: It’s a great thing and we are super glad that you have taken time out of your incredibly busy schedule to come and say G’day. Hopefully there will be a few more in Canberra that take sort of a leaf your of your book and maybe make their way to the Northern Territory, especially Scomo. We’d like to see him.
ALBANESE: That’s right. He should travel up here. But he should travel up here during an election campaign
LITTLE: Shouldn’t he?
ALBANESE: I do think it is time for them to pull the trigger and give the Australian people a say in who the Government is.
ALBANESE: I think you know they gave up governing last week. It was pretty extraordinary and one of the feedbacks I get unfortunately is it doesn’t reflect well on all of us as politicians. I think it is an honourable profession. But people are shaking their heads, and I don’t blame them frankly.
LITTLE: No. No it has been a little bit messy but hopefully things will start to calm down. But I think you are right. I think the Australian people deserve the opportunity to elect our Prime Minister, rather than just take what we are given after what I can only describe a very childish kindergarten behaviour in our Parliament.
ALBANESE: Absolutely and I noticed just a little while ago Julia Banks, who is a Liberal MP from Chisholm, down in Victoria – she won that seat off the Labor Party; it’s the only seat that the Government won off Labor at the 2016 election. And she has basically said: “I’m out of here’’. She was one of the people who were intimidated last week over to sign petitions and to engage in the chaos that happened and Julia has basically said “this isn’t for me,’’ which is a pity because I think she is a very decent honourable person.
ALBANESE: And I think she has shown that with this action.
LITTLE: Yes, absolutely Albo. Thank you so much for your time this morning. We are pretty close mates now so I am going to call you Albo. You can call me Melza. It would be great.
LITTLE: Enjoy the rest of your day with Gossaz and yes we will talk real soon.
ALBANESE: Thanks I can still report that Gosling is right. Eyes on the road. He’s focused. He’s worried about what I am saying of course because he can’t hear what you are saying. It’s worried him a bit that he has got the radio off but as soon as we hang up the radio will be back on.
LITTLE: Good on you. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
ALBANESE: See you.
WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST, 2018