TRANSCRIPT: ABC Darwin, 27 April 2021

27 April 2021

Subjects: Proposal for wet camp in Darwin; No one in Aged Care vaccinated in the NT since 9 April; vaccine confusion across the NT



JO LAVERTY, PRESENTER: Malarndirri McCarthy is Northern Territory Senator. Good morning.

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, NT SENATOR: Good morning, Jo, and good morning Adam and good morning to your listeners.

LAVERTY:  It's not the first time that the idea of a wet camp has been spoken about, but it's certainly gaining momentum. Do you think a wet camp should be introduced in Darwin?

MCCARTHY: Look, I certainly want to understand more about what it is that's being proposed, Jo. I do understand that the Larrakia Nation has raised the concern of the hundreds of people that they deal with in terms of camping and sleeping rough across Darwin. So, this is initially where their views come from, is my understanding, and the next step is to look at a safe place for them. But the other thing, too, is that Larrakia Nation and Larrakia people who have spoken to me have said that it's about also countrymen and women from other First Nations communities respecting the fact that they are on Larrakia Land. So, I think from a cultural perspective, there's a whole lot more that is wrapped around this other than just the view of drinking somewhere safe.

LAVERTY: Yeah, and there's so much tied to the idea of public drunkenness as well, because, I mean, you just have to go down Mitchell Street, you see a lot of public drunkenness. But the main problem is that it can lead to it unsafe conditions, especially if you're camping or sleeping rough, it can lead to violence and the like. Do you think a wet camp might be able to solve some of those problems associated with that?

MCCARTHY: I'm cautious about it, Jo, in the sense that I'd like to hear from all these groups that are going to meet at the end of this week. I understand that Larrakia Nation is a part of the coordination of NGO's coming together, and I think it's commendable that groups are coming together. I don't know if having directly a wet camp is the answer to this. I believe from certainly a Federal situation that the issues of unemployment, of need for further housing and the overcrowding that still occurs across the regions are all also part of this. Why is it that we're seeing so many people coming to town? And I think that is the real question that has to be asked.

ADAM STEER, PRESENTER: The federal government supplies a lot of money to the Northern Territory government for remote housing, and yet we see very few houses being built.

MCCARTHY: Look, it depends on where you go, Adam. I've been out to quite a few communities in the Gulf region and in Arnhem Land and certainly we've seen houses being built there. The problem is not that they're not being built. The problem is, is that there's still not enough being built in my view, as I travel around. But also the fact that we need jobs. Our communities need jobs, everyone needs jobs.

STEER: Last week you criticised the Federal Government for its Aged Care vaccine roll out in the Territory, saying not one jab had been administered in two weeks. Jo put that to the Council of Aging CEO Sue Shearer yesterday. This was her response. "Most of them have had it, I think. I know some of them had the Pfizer, so I can only go on as I said, from people in the actual aged care area themselves, but obviously some probably with health conditions as well wouldn't have it because underlying health conditions in those probably over 90, 95 with underlying health conditions, probably wouldn't be advised to have it." So according to Sue, everyone in aged care who wanted a jab has received one so what's the issue here?

MCCARTHY: The issue here is that we spoke about that last fortnight, Adam. We know that there are, at least 12 remote aged care centres across the Northern Territory that haven't received it. Now the people that Ms Shearer may be speaking of maybe had access here in Darwin or in Alice Springs. But in the fortnight that I was referring to, it's actually the fact that there has been no further vaccination in a phase that's almost due to end.

LAVERTY: You've been travelling around the Territory for the past few weeks. What's some of the feedback you're getting from people about the vaccine?

MCCARTHY: Well, the feedback certainly in Maningrida, for example, is confusion and they’re concerned that they don't know what's going on. You've got terrific workers at the front line in Maningrida, in particular, both at the health care there at Mala’la and also at the aged care who are ready and had consent forms ready for vaccinations. And then when the news came through on the AstraZeneca, the confusion came through, there has been very little, if any, information that's gone out. In Jabiru, they're certainly preparing, but again, the confusion is still quite clear. And in a Gulf country, people are just saying that they don't feel confident about coming in for the vaccination.

LAVERTY: Well they're certainly not alone. There's a lot of vaccine hesitancy and a growing sense of a lack of confidence as well right around Australia. Thank you so much for your time today, Senator.

MCCARTHY: No worries, thank you.

LAVERTY: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy on ABC Radio Darwin.