10 May 2018


SUBJECT/S: Budget 2018

MATTY HEPWORTH, PRESENTER: Last night Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the Budget in Parliament, among the promises for the Northern Territory include $280 million for upgrades to major outback highways, $550 million for remote Indigenous housing and a $259 million payment to offset a fall in our share of the GST. Unfortunately, no mention of funding as part of the joint Government Citys Deal though.

To talk more about the budget and what it means for the Northern Territory, the Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy joins us on the line. Senator, good morning.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Good morning Matty and good morning to your listeners.

HEPWORTH: Senator, what did you make of last nights Budget?

MCCARTHY: Very lacklustre Matty for the Territory and the people of the Territory, it has been quite disappointing really. We certainly have been waiting for something regarding a City Deal. It was disappointing to see that Western Sydney, Launceston and Townsville have got the go-ahead for theirs but no mention of the capital in the North.

HEPWORTH: Over the last few weeks, we have seen some of those details of the Budget leaked, obviously nothing about the Citys Deal but we have seen some funding towards roads and infrastructure and housing infrastructure as well. Were you as surprised as I was to find out that we arent, going to see that funding for the next five years?

MCCARTHY: Not surprised at all. This is really a smoke and mirrors Budget, it looks well into the future, a future that if any one of us could guess we would be pretty well off by now. There is no way that $250 million is going to assist our roads. When you look at it Matty, for a kilometre of road, it costs nearly a million dollars just to seal, so $250 million is only going to go what 200, 300, 400 kilometres?


MCCARTHY: And if we are talking about the Central Arnhem Highway, that is over 666 kilometres, so it is really quite unfair I think for the Federal Government to dress it up as something that we should be grateful for when in actual fact that doesnt even hit the surface.

HEPWORTH: You described it before as a smoke and mirrors budget with a Federal Election looming in the next 12 months or so, do you believe this was a bit of an election sweetener, we saw that some of the low to middle come income earners are going to see some of those income tax cuts but the Territory missed out. Do you feel that this was about trying to sell the Government and more about an election sweetener than actually a good deal for the Territory?

MCCARTHY: Yeah, this is definitely an election Budget for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he is focused on the eastern states. He is focused in particular on Tasmania and the seats in Tasmania. He is focused everywhere where he thinks he can win the seats. He is not too concerned at all for the Territory, and it reflects in the Budget.

HEPWORTH: Senator, you are obviously a direct voice for Territorians in Canberra what have you been lobbying the Government for in this Budget that we have not seen?

MCCARTHY: Were obviously going to have our reply to the Prime Minister and the Treasurers Budget tomorrow night and certainly what we have been working on within the Federal Labor Caucus is on jobs, growth and housing. These are some of the things that we hope we can turn around should we become elected. Our focus is going to be specifically for those people across the Northern Territory, not only in Darwin and Alice Springs but our regions.

HEPWORTH: Senator, I know that you have been a great ambassador for the Territory, particularly for this Citys Deal, with no funding on the table for us, what happens next? Where does that leave us with this Citys Deal?

MCCARTHY: Well, I dont give up Matty and I think you know that and I think the people of the Territory know that. Weve Senate Estimates, Budget Estimates coming up the week after next and I will be scrutinising these Budget papers, asking every question that I can to each of the departments, particularly around this Citys Deal, and how it is that we can extract money going forward. I am not going to give up I am very passionate about the Northern Territory and in particular this City Deal for Darwin and we are just going to keep on asking the questions and pushing as hard as we can.

HEPWORTH: Senator we love you fighting for the Northern Territory thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us this morning.

MCCARTHY: No worries, thanks Matty.

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