TRANSCRIPT: 2 July 2019 Safety night patrols in Central Australian communities

04 July 2019


SUBJECT: Safety night patrols in Central Australian communities

ALEX BARWICK, ABC ALICE SPRINGS: NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy is with us this afternoon. Thanks so much for your time Senator.

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, NT SENATOR: Hello Alex. Hello to your listeners.

BARWICK: Is it fair to demand Ken Wyatt immediately restore funding given it seems that this decision lay with the previous Minister who didnt provide a proper handover to Ken Wyatt.

MCCARTHY: Well whats fair is to actually ask the Minister to move on this very quickly. In fact I spoke to Ken Wyatt this morning as we were waiting for the walker Alwyn to come into the Parliament and I actually mentioned a number of issues and said it was really important that we get on top of some of these issues that are concerning us in terms of First Nations issues.

BARWICK: Did you talk to him specifically about this cut in funding for night patrols?

MCCARTHY: Look I was able to speak to him just very briefly about CDPs as we were trying to walk through the doors. And I just said to him look Ken Wyatt we do need to talk about a number of issues, this one included, and wed like to get a briefing as soon as possible so what Im going to do Alex clearly weve all been sworn in today is to actually see if I can follow that up this week.

BARWICK: I guess you could say though yes hes new and so youre saying come on now lets get something happening. But youre not new; youre old; youve been around for a while so has Warren Snowdon

MCCARTHY: Well so has Ken actually. Hes been in longer than I have.

BARWICK: But in terms of that portfolio and in terms of you representing this region, you guys have been around for a long time certainly Warren Snowdon, a very long time. Could you both have possibly raised this earlier given that clearly it became clear on the 9th and 10th of April?

MCCARTHY: Look we were certainly going into an election at that particular time. The first Ive been aware of it is in recent days in relation to the commentary. But I think what weve been able to do certainly with more issues, not just in terms of this one is to always raise the concerns that we had with the way that the IAS funding was being spent by the previous Minister and its clear that whats going on in the Central Desert Shire now is a real concern and I think that Ken Wyatt, given his interest in the Northern Territory last week having visited, that I think we should get him to Alice Springs as soon as possible.

BARWICK: So just to clarify you only heard about this cut in funding in sort of the last week?

MCCARTHY: Oh in recent days, just recent days. I certainly didnt hear about it in April as we were going into the May election.

BARWICK: Just to go back to your call on Ken Wyatt to immediately restore that funding, in his defence hes said he is looking into the situation. Given that Parliaments only just returned today, surely its reasonable that he would take a good amount of time to actually look over the funding arrangement and actually consider if properly.

MCCARTHY: Well I think thats what Im saying Alex, is that Ive spoken to him this morning saying we need to get him across that brief as soon as possible and weve just been sworn in today and I think we can pursue that this week with him, in particular for those nine communities. And also we recognise that of those nine, youve got only a couple of police stations in some of those, so its a real concern around the safety issue. Weve just heard the Governor General outline the importance of safety and I think we know that this is an issue that the Government has outlined thats going to be number one for them.

BARWICK: What do you think could be some of the negative flow on effects if this goes on for a long time, no night patrols in those nine remote communities?

MCCARTHY: I think we all know what that would mean Alex and thats a situation we certainly dont want.

BARWICK: No, articulate it for us, not everyone does.

MCCARTHY: The bells are going now so Im going to have to go back into the Senate but basically the fact that weve got the community safety patrols there in the first instance is to make sure that people feel safe Alex and thats really the bottom line. But I do have to go, the bells are going.

BARWICK: No worries.

MCCARTHY: But listen I thank you and Ill certainly follow up with yourself and the people of the Central Desert in relation to what we can do with Ken Wyatt.

BARWICK: Thanks Malarndirri McCarthy. NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy taken away by the bells, there she is in Canberra. Probably shouldnt miss her first day of Parliament; that might be a bit inappropriate mightnt it. But talking through that situation as it stands right now, this is as of yesterday, those nine remote communities across the Central Desert region now without a night patrol. Well have to watch this space and certainly check in again with the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt who is, according to his office, currently being briefed on the situation about funding for that service.