TRANSCRIPT: 3 APRIL 2019 2019-20 Budget

April 03, 2019

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
ABC BREAKFAST, ALICE SPRINGS
WEDNESDAY, 3 APRIL 2019

SUBJECTS: 2019-20 Budget

STEWART BRASH, PRESENTER ABC RADIO BREAKFAST ALICE SPRINGS: We have heard about tax cuts, we have heard about promises for more infrastructure, we've also heard about the $15 plus million for a new Doppler  radar for Tennant Creek welcomed by Nashee who we spoke to after 7 O’clock who has been campaigning on the radar for years. Steve Edgington Barkly Regional Council Mayor welcoming that. Also $5.7 million in the current Budget, this Budget coming up for the Barkly regional plan. So will Labor keep the promise? If they win Government will they spend $15 million for a weather radar for the Barkly. They have said they will spend $2 million on shortwave for remote services. I spoke to Senator Malarndirri McCarthy earlier, and I put that question to her about matching the deal on the Doppler radar. 

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: It is interesting isn't it that we are getting excited about something that should have never have been taken away from us. And one of the things that Labor has always been committed to making sure communication is essential. The Northern Territory shortwave is a major issue still and certainly, it is good news for the people of the Tennant Creek and the Barkly that this announcement has come about, but it is unfortunate this radar was taken away from us. 

BRASH: Can I just clarify though Labor will support the $15 million if you're in Government, if you win the next Federal election it will happen as well? Does it matter who wins? 

MCCARTHY: We will certainly want to see the radar back up and running as we do with shortwave. 

BRASH: Will you match the $15? There are different radars, there are cheaper radar? 

MCCARTHY: Can I just say Brashy that we will be looking at estimates tomorrow and actually drilling down in the figures of these, and that is what we do as opposition and obviously be responsible in that. But can I just say to the people of the Northern Territory that Labor is absolutely committed to ensuring that communications including the Tennant Creek radar and shortwave is returned to the Northern Territory? 

BRASH: With the shortwave, we had this conversation before that $2 million would barely touch the sides of delivering a service that would be comparable with what we had. And of course, the ABC may not even choose to take up the offer. You might build it the ABC may not use it. 

MCCARTHY: We have said that we need to have this back and one of the other things that we'll be doing is speaking or at least writing to the new Chair of the ABC Board, Ita Buttrose, to put our case as Federal Territory members that shortwave is critical. We saw what happened with Cyclone Trevor with the lack of that service to a fishing family off Nhulunbuy and the dangers that it still poses when we come to the wet season and flooding. I think it is certainly quite critical that we keep pursuing that and that is what I'll be doing. 

BRASH: If it will cost more than the $2 million, will Labor be prepared to pay more than that and of course running costs are very expensive for shortwave, we have spoken about this before. It has got to be ongoing costs as well as actually infrastructure costs to rebuild. I know you were talking about a whole new build of a shortwave service. 

MCCARTHY: We are actually talking about switching it back on Brashy.

BRASH: I thought you were talking about a new service? 

MCCARTHY: We are talking about switching shortwave back on, and that requires further consultations obviously in terms of the technical aspects of it. But we have made a thorough commitment that has been examined in terms of our policy. We've made the phone calls and had the discussions...

BRASH: So you will be turning on all three transmitters, VLA A, K and T? 

MCCARTHY: We will be looking at the transmitter in Queensland, in Far North Queensland to assist. And at this stage, those negotiations are still important to continue. 

BRASH: So not turning on all three transmitters? 

MCCARTHY: Of course what we would have to do is win Government to be able to do that. 

BRASH: Ok, but you can't make a promise about turning on the service that are still there, sitting on Row Creek at the moment. 

MCCARTHY: We can certainly make a promise that shortwave will be switched back on. 

BRASH: Can I say that the Budget came through and has been welcomed by people, by middle Australia who are looking for tax relief, who are looking for a way forward? This certainly puts the Coalition in a much better frame when it comes to the election. Do you fear that people are going to say, ignore all the chaos of the Liberal and Coalition government of the last few years and say 'well actually they are the better economic managers, we're going to stick with them'? 

MCCARTHY: But does it really Brashy? I mean look at the front page of the NT News, look at the fact that they have made a commitment supposedly to Kakadu, and then they have reneged on that. There is no money coming forward in terms of Kakadu over the forward estimates, it was zero zero zero. So there is no commitment for the people of the Northern Territory in regards to that and I... 

BRASH: Do you think people will look at the tax cuts and go wow, that's an extra $1000 in my back pocket? 

MCCARTHY: Well let's have a look at what they are promising the people of the Northern Territory. 21, 000 people on Basics Card are now going to be told they are going to have to go on the cashless debit card, that is a 50 per cent reduction in their income to 80 per cent so how is that a win for the Northern Territory? 

BRASH: Can I just say Malarndirri McCarthy that we spoke with the Minister responsible and he said the people currently on the Basics Card will be on a 50:50 split as they are on the Basics Card if they move to the Cashless Debit Card. 

MCCARTHY: And you believe that? You believe that Brashy? Seriously this is the Government that has not committed, it took them nine months before they could give $550 million to housing for people in the Northern Territory so this Government has form, it has record that it promised things and it never delivers. 

BRASH: You could say that about the Territory Government as well, that they haven't spent enough of their housing money they say they are spending a certain amount of money, they haven't spent that... 

MCCARTHY: And the Territory Government relies on the $550 million in terms of that partnership. This was a commitment by Scott Morrison, nine months ago and then Nigel Scullion as the Minister who has failed in his duty to the people of the Northern Territory to deliver chose to play politics with the Land Councils and those who are incredibly in need for housing across the Territory. 

BRASH: Malarndirri McCarthy one other thing which came out in the Budget was a $24 plus million for an ambulatory centre in Alice Springs. Now ambulatory refers to learning to walk have you any idea of what this is and what it is going to do? We spoke to Minister Fyles' office here, and they are not even really aware of this money. 

MCCARTHY: Well we need to have a look at that, I mean the thing is that we have to remember again that this Government cut $16 million in funding to hospitals in the Northern Territory so let's see what the estimates come forward with over the next two days Brashy becasue there is a lot of detail that needs to be drilled down into.

BRASH: There is a censure motion in the Senate regarding Senator Anning, and his comments post the Christchurch massacre, what is hope to come out of that censure? I mean you can't remove him from the Senate. 

MCCARTHY: This is the most extreme form of condemnation against the Senator by other Senators and by the Australian Parliament. So clearly this is an opportunity to remind all Senators that we have a responsibility in terms of what we say, how we say it in terms of massacres that occur like what happened in Christchurch and that's what this morning will be about. 

BRASH: Can I ask one more clarifying question regarding shortwave, how much money is Labor promising to turn shortwave back on? 

MCCARTHY: We have committed $2 million. 

BRASH: For one year? 

MCCARTHY: If we win the next election. 

BRASH: That would only be for one year to actually turn them back on. 

MCCARTHY: It's a start. 

BRASH: Malarndirri McCarthy thanks for your time. 

MCCARTHY: Thank you.  

ENDS