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Transcript of interview with Mel Little: FM 104.1 Darwin: 29 August 2018: Darwin City Deal; infrastructure investment; Tiger Brennan Drive

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Subjects: Darwin City Deal, infrastructure investment, Tiger Brennan Drive.

MEL LITTLE: Welcome to the Northern Territory Albo. We are glad to have you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s always good to be here, but particularly good to be

here because it has been so bloody cold down south. It’s a beautiful day here. My

wife was quite upset with me for coming up and I rubbed it in last night when it was

zero in Sydney.


ALBANESE: It’s been really cold. It’s a beautiful morning here of course and we

had the Ports Australia conference last night. We had dinner outside of the

Convention Centre there and it was just gorgeous. I am very jealous of all of you.

I’m jealous of my mate Luke.

LITTLE: It’s a beautiful time of year. I don’t know whether you have heard, but we

are throwing out a few incentives for people to move to the Top End so if you

would like a little bit of coin maybe let us know, we could find you a spot.

ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s a great place to live and a great lifestyle. I actually

have quite a few friends who have moved up here over the years and have settled

here and they are all very, very happy with their choice in life.

LITTLE: Well we are happy to have them. We are kind of happy to have you in our

city at the moment. I am hoping you can ruffle a few feathers and maybe make our

new Prime Minister come good with the City Deal.

ALBANESE: Well it has been now 498 days since it was promised and not a dollar

has flowed - nothing at all. And indeed it’s pretty disappointing that ministers have

come and gone but none of them have actually delivered. So certainly it’s not

without the enormous pressure that Luke Gosling puts on. He raises it in

Parliament just about every week and puts pressure on the Government to actually

deliver. I am driving along - with well Luke is driving, I am sitting next to him - on

the Tiger Brennan Drive at the moment. When I was the Minister of course we

came up and delivered many hundreds of millions of dollars to fix up infrastructure

here around Darwin. We did Tiger Brennan. We did an upgrade of the port. We did

an upgrade, a revitalisation of the CBD and around the waterfront precinct got



ALBANESE: But there’s a drought of course in lots of Australia, but there is a

drought when it comes to dollars coming into Darwin from the Federal


LITTLE: It looks that way. Would you agree that the City Deal was sort of

something shiny to distract us from the fact that they were cutting other


ALBANESE: Well I think it is. When you look at the figures, this year the Northern

Territory will get $222 million for infrastructure. That falls each and every year

across the Forwards down to $61 million in 2021-22. So they are taking three in

every four dollars essentially away from the Territory. And that means that other

projects that they have announced, like the Central Arnhem Road and others,

where the funding is all off into the Never Never. Now this Government’s struggling

to survive on a week-by-week basis.

LITTLE: Yes. It seems that way.

ALBANESE: The idea of making promises for something in five years’ time is just

absurd and you can see the difference that investment makes. I can see it literally

driving on it right now and the difference that has made not just to travel times

between Palmerston and the Darwin CBD, but of course road safety as well.

Literally, it saves lives.

LITTLE: It does indeed. Unfortunately in the Northern Territory our road toll at the

moment isn’t great. We are actually, I think, above anybody else in the nation,

which is not a number that we are proud of.

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right and we need to bring it down. I can report that Luke

Gosling is a very good driver though.

LITTLE: Don’t pump up his tyres.

ALBANESE: A great local member but a good driver. I am just saying good. I’m

not saying great. Because what you want is good drivers who stick to the speed

limit and obey the road rules. You don’t want anything fancy.

LITTLE: I don’t think he’d be brave enough to do anything silly while he’s got the

Shadow Minister for Transport sitting next to him.

ALBANESE: Exactly. I’d have to report him.

LITTLE: Brilliant stuff. And so what is going to happen in Palmy today? What are

you doing?

ALBANESE: Well we are catching up with the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor and

some of the other business leaders ...

LITTLE: Lovely.

ALBANESE: … and others. We are having a bit of a lunch at Rydges there.

LITTLE: Oh, gorgeous.

ALBANESE: After we have a meeting, so it’s all good. I always try to get out and

about when I am in this fine city and one of the things that attracts people to come

here is just people are really welcoming. I really always find that. It’s a really good

culture here of people just coming up and saying G’day. I had a beer before the

dinner last night with Hendo at a pub in the CBD and people were just coming up

and chatting to him and chatting to me. It’s a good thing.

LITTLE: It’s a great thing and we are super glad that you have taken time out of

your incredibly busy schedule to come and say G’day. Hopefully there will be a few

more in Canberra that take sort of a leaf your of your book and maybe make their

way to the Northern Territory, especially Scomo. We’d like to see him.

ALBANESE: That’s right. He should travel up here. But he should travel up here

during an election campaign

LITTLE: Shouldn’t he?

ALBANESE: I do think it is time for them to pull the trigger and give the Australian

people a say in who the Government is.


ALBANESE: I think you know they gave up governing last week. It was pretty

extraordinary and one of the feedbacks I get unfortunately is it doesn’t reflect well

on all of us as politicians. I think it is an honourable profession. But people are

shaking their heads, and I don’t blame them frankly.

LITTLE: No. No it has been a little bit messy but hopefully things will start to calm

down. But I think you are right. I think the Australian people deserve the

opportunity to elect our Prime Minister, rather than just take what we are given

after what I can only describe a very childish kindergarten behaviour in our


ALBANESE: Absolutely and I noticed just a little while ago Julia Banks, who is a

Liberal MP from Chisholm, down in Victoria - she won that seat off the Labor Party;

it’s the only seat that the Government won off Labor at the 2016 election. And she

has basically said: “I’m out of here’’. She was one of the people who were

intimidated last week over to sign petitions and to engage in the chaos that

happened and Julia has basically said “this isn’t for me,’’ which is a pity because I

think she is a very decent honourable person.


ALBANESE: And I think she has shown that with this action.

LITTLE: Yes, absolutely Albo. Thank you so much for your time this morning. We

are pretty close mates now so I am going to call you Albo. You can call me Melza.

It would be great.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

LITTLE: Enjoy the rest of your day with Gossaz and yes we will talk real soon.

ALBANESE: Thanks I can still report that Gosling is right. Eyes on the road. He’s

focused. He’s worried about what I am saying of course because he can’t hear

what you are saying. It’s worried him a bit that he has got the radio off but as soon

as we hang up the radio will be back on.

LITTLE: Good on you. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

ALBANESE: See you.