25 November 2020



SUBJECTS: Queensland opening borders to NSW; Victorian budget; Richmond fan tattoo gone wrong

ALLY LANGDON, HOST: Well, let's get into it with Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and The Daily Telegraph political editor Anna Caldwell. Nice to talk to you both. Malarndirri, there has been so much stress around this issue, should it have taken this long?

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Oh, look, you know, we can reflect on so many things, I think, Ally, but let's remember, it's the 25th of November and we're just four weeks away from Christmas. And what a beautiful gift to be able to have enormous hope for for the coming weeks. And we just still have to keep our fingers crossed, obviously. But I think it's just fantastic news, Ally. In fact, I was trying to think about the last eight or nine months, and it's just like it's really hard to kind of think about too many things because it's been a really, really tough year.

LANGDON: Yeah. And you think about it and you get emotional. Anna, have you booked your flight north?

ANNA CALDWELL, DAILY TELEGRAPH: I sure have. Bring it on. I booked my flight immediately, called my mum. Everybody is so happy. But you know more than these personal family connections, it is just such terrific news for tourism. You know, I hope that there's an absolute gold rush for those North Queensland tourism businesses and we can all just get the economy moving in this New Year. It's a shame that it took so long, but I'm just so relieved and I really hope we can see some certainty now. You know, I hope that we don't move to a phase of open/close and we have them open, we abide by the rules, we get this right and bring on the new year.

LANGDON: How devastating would that be, Malarndirri, if the borders open and then to have them closed again?

MCCARTHY: Look, I think, Ally, we are incredibly acutely aware that Australia is not the place it was 12 months ago. And as much as we may not want the COVID to impact, we still have to have some sense of alert and a responsibility to others that this virus is incredibly dangerous. And the reason why our country has got through it is because we have acted, I think, on the whole, quite responsibly. And it's we're not through it in terms of the virus itself. And until we actually get that vaccine out there, I think all Australians have to have in the back of their mind that every bit of travel may still result in some blocks at some point.

LANGDON: So you support an open/shut kind of policy?

MCCARTHY: Oh, look, I think that we have to be responsible here. You know, if I look at the Northern Territory, which is where I represent clearly, we will shut down quickly. I said this on the last time I was here, that our First Nations communities has been critical in terms of the decisions made by the chief health medical officer here. And I don't think there's any real apology for that. So we would act very quickly and decisively.

LANGDON: Yeah, well, let's, I want to talk about Victoria's state budget yesterday. $340 billion spending spree over four years. To put that in perspective, that takes the debt in the state to $23,000 for every single person. That's going to add to a state and federal debt, which is heading towards $1.4 trillion by 2024. Malarndirri, it is a scary amount of money.

MCCARTHY: Of course it is, Ally, there is no doubt about that. I think that we've gone through something and we're still going through it, that is unprecedented which means our economic situation is going to be an enormous challenge. But I am confident that as all Australians, we're going to get through this. We are going to get through this, in particular around our economy, right across every single jurisdiction. We have closed to the rest of the international community. We've never done that before. And once we start opening up, we will see the changes that we need to see.

LANGDON: Anna, is any other option you think? But to spend our way out of this?

CALDWELL: I really don't. I mean, they are huge eye watering debt figures. But I think the reality is we need to keep it in perspective. Debt, the cost of debt at the moment, the interest rates are relatively cheap. So it is, it is achievable to pay it off, although it will take a long time. I think governments have a real responsibility at the moment to spend to stimulate the economy. You know, these big states, New South Wales is the same. You know, they've made huge investments to really get infrastructure moving, to get us out and about, to get us spending. And I think that's so critical to keeping jobs going. And that's what we all need in this economic crisis.

LANGDON: You know what? Money might be cheap at the moment, but it's not free. And I do really worry about what we're leaving behind for our kids and our grandkids to pay. But anyway, as you say, what other option is there at the moment? And there's more fallout this morning for Gladys Berejiklian. Her admission yesterday that she should have self isolated after being tested for COVID. And I mean, we saw with her interview with Karl yesterday, she really struggled to explain herself on this show. And you didn't miss in the paper today, did you?

CALDWELL: Well, that's right, Ally, I mean, my view is this. This really does erode her trust in her credibility in many ways. I mean, most of her senior colleagues, you know, their view is what ultimately happened was harmless. She wasn't infected. But the reality is she set these rules. There are so many people across Australia who have missed casual work shifts who haven't been able to pick their kids up from school because they've abided by the rules that people like Gladys Berejiklian set. You know, we all make mistakes. But but what was really surprising in that and as you refer to that, that interview yesterday on Today, you know, Karl had to press Gladys Berejiklian numerous times before she even came close to really admitting that she breached her own rules. I think it would have been far better if she just fronted up and said, I made a mistake. I can see how hard it is to get this right and move forward. But instead, we've seen this really kind of murky explanation. And I do think it's problematic.

LANGDON: Yeah, I think you're right. And as you say, you didn't miss in the paper today, you were pretty you were pretty spot on. But I want to talk to you about this now on a lighter note of Richmond footy fans, I'm going to call it a spectacular fail. So these coordinates inked on his arm showing the exact location of his beloved Punt Road. The problem, he got it wrong. The coordinates are wrong. And the mistake was posted online by his furious wife. He actually got a park that was nearby. I mean, Malarndirri. It's not like it's permanent or anything.

MCCARTHY: Well, look, all I can say, Ally is so long as he knows to get to the Richmond Games, he will be fine.

LANGDON: You got any tatts you regret, Anna?

CALDWELL: Well, I was going to say I have respect for anyone brave enough to get a tattoo because I really can't commit to things for that long. And I just, for this bloke, I really hope he likes the park, you know, like maybe he could talk his way out of it if he proposed to his wife at the park or something like that. But he's going to have to come up with a good park story, that's all I can say.

LANGDON: Yep. And I think Karl's got a few that he regrets that he got done as a as a as a young lad. But anyway, that's a discussion for another day. All right ladies.

STEFANOVIC: Another time slot.

LANGDON: Another time slot. Sounds interesting! Lovely to talk to you both. I'll talk to you soon.