DARWIN - 2 February 2022
KATIE WOOLF, HOST: We certainly know that a federal election is looming. We've seen a few federal pollies in and out of the Northern Territory, some shadow ministers here as well. But joining us in the studio right now is – well, someone who's in the Territory all the time. That is the member for Solomon Luke Gosling. Good morning.
LUKE GOSLING, MEMBER FOR SOLOMON: Great to see you again, Katie.
WOOLF: Happy New Year! I haven't seen you yet for the New Year yet, but good to have you back in the studio. Now, Luke, we know that that we still don't have an actual date for the federal election yet. Can I ask you before we get started, what's your guess?
GOSLING: First half of May, that's what it's looking like. Because the Prime Minister has said that there'll be a budget in March, and I had the opportunity to speak to the federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who was in Darwin last night. I spoke with him about Territory needs and looking after the Territory in this budget. Because obviously, as the incoming Labor federal government, whatever is in that budget we'll be looking at that carefully, and we’ll obviously be meeting stuff that's good for the Territory.
WOOLF: So I know that today it's going to be announced by the Labor Party that if elected, Federal Labor would invest $7.5 million into overhauling the Casuarina Swimming Centre. Now, some people listening this morning might be a bit confused because I know that the Darwin City Council said that they were going to revamp the Casuarina Swimming Centre. So how would this money help?
GOSLING: Well, it's 50 years old, the pool. So it really needs revamp. And I think the Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis has got a really great vision and the aldermen up there, particularly people like Jimmy Bouhoris, have got a really great vision for how that pool can be great social infrastructure, great sports infrastructure and just be a real hub. And now we see this morning with the redevelopment of Cas Square itself, I mean that it's just going to be amazing up there in Casuarina. This is on the back of the Palmerston pool receiving $5 million through a federal grant to upgrade their pool, which is really important. But the Casuarina Pool missed out on federal funding. So this is me getting Catherine King, one of our senior people into Darwin today. We’ll stand up at the pool and we'll just commit that $7.5 million, which will mean that that pool can get underway as soon as possible. Now, the Lord Mayor asked us for that funding, said it was a number one priority for the Council. So, you know, I'm starting to provide.
WOOLF: Now, my kids swim. So I've been to swimming carnivals there at Casuarina, and I also, would you believe, went to a swimming carnival – several swimming carnivals there when I was a kid like 20-odd years ago, and I don't think the pool’s changed much in those 20 years. So I can see that there is a real need for that pool to be upgraded. I've already received an email this morning, though, this one from Lee, and it says, “Hi Katie, do you know a time in history when during a state of emergency a sitting government has gone ahead and built a new pool? Money better spent elsewhere perhaps? I think it's time to talk about ending this discussion immediately. Enough's enough and we need to stop the spending.” So, look, I know that there's different people with very differing opinions.
GOSLING: Yeah. Lee doesn't have to go to the pool. But Territorians deserve the best possible infrastructure that is available. And this is a 50-year-old pool. The Palmerston pool is getting a revamp. I don't want the northern suburbs to miss out on a great opportunity to get their pool up to standard. But also there's going to be restaurants, cafes, a lagoon pool. There's going to be stuff for kids and that's what we need, is more stuff for our kids to do. Better sports infrastructure when it comes to swimming. Parap’s got a new pool. Palmerston is going to get a new pool. I don't want the northern suburbs to miss out. It is important infrastructure and I'm proud that we're going to contribute.
WOOLF: Now Luke, we did speak just a short time ago to the Police Association President Paul McCue, and we spoke about some of the funding concerns around remote police stations. So essentially there's been an agreement, as I understand it, in place for a number of years for those remote police stations. It also funds 55 police officers, as I understand it, remotely. If a Labor Federal Government was elected, what would be the stance when it comes to this funding for the remote stations?
GOSLING: Yeah, it was really disappointing. The Chief Minister met with the Federal Treasurer yesterday, so I'm sure that they covered off on that, and it's obviously an NT issue. But obviously, I'm happy to say that the Federal Government should continue its support for those remote police officers. But what has been announced from the Federal Government in terms of continuity of funding only covers 70 officers, not the full about 230-plus officers that we need out in the community. So that's obviously disappointing, and we'd like to see in the upcoming federal budget more funding allocated for that purpose.
WOOLF: And what about though, for you guys, from your perspective, I know that as you said, right at the start of the interview that the Federal Government obviously will be releasing their own budget and then even if Labor was elected, you'd have to realistically adhere to some of those, you know, some of those commitments that were made. But does Labor think that those remote community police stations need to be funded? And would you make sure that that happened?
GOSLING: Yeah, I 100 percent support the Police Association, and I’m keeping contact with Paul McCue about the needs and where the Federal Government can do more. I'm returning through the first week of the federal parliament on the weekend. We've got two weeks down there and I'll be talking to my colleagues. But obviously Warren Snowdon and Marion Scrymgeour, who’s our excellent candidate for Lingiari, will have more to say on this, as that announcement has just being made. But we really appreciate and respect the work that our police do out in the communities and they need to be properly financially supported, and the Northern Territory Government needs more support from the Federal Government to do that. So that's what I'll be pushing for.
WOOLF: So Parliament is sitting already next week?
GOSLING: Yeah, I fly down on Sunday for two weeks of federal parliament. Then we go back for the budget, and then we're basically into the election campaign. Just last couple of days, I've had the Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Murray Watt, up here talking to stakeholders about what we need to see in this budget and what they need and want to see from Federal Labor in government. And today we've got our Infrastructure Minister Catherine King coming up to the pool, but she's going to be obviously vital in that roads funding space as well.
WOOLF: Yeah, we're going to be catching up with her tomorrow morning. We were due to catch up with Josh Frydenberg this morning as well. Unfortunately, that's not happened. I know that he's been pressed for time, but we are going to be catching up with Catherine King tomorrow and I'm very keen to speak to her a little bit more about that roads funding, particularly following on from the situation that we're seeing at the moment with that shortage of stock on our shelves, and some people calling for the Stuart Highway to be flood-proof so that we don't wind up in this situation again.
GOSLING: Yeah, and they’re the sorts of questions that Josh Frydenberg as the Federal Treasurer whilst he's in the Territory should be answering. And also why, you know, Scott Morrison the PM came up before the last election and promised $220 million for Kakadu. He's going out to Jabiru today, but there's been nothing happen. So, you know, that's not good enough. We don't want to see a continuation of the situation where the Federal Government, they are all spin and no grip. We need grip on the roads. We need the roads open. And these shortages, the non-availability of rapid antigen tests, for example. I mean, it's just simply not good enough. And I'm really excited about Federal Labor's interest and dedication to the Northern Territory. And there will be more shadow ministers coming up for you to talk to, Katie.
WOOLF: When can we expect Albo in town?
GOSLING: Not too far away.
WOOLF: Well no doubt we'll have him in the studio.
GOSLING: Well of course, it’s the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin in just a few short weeks, so a couple of weeks of Parliament and then we'll have the leader here for the bombing of Darwin. And he'll be talking to you, Katie.
WOOLF: Well, good stuff. Luke, Can you just tell us, because our listeners obviously can't see you, but you're limping around – what's going on?
GOSLING: I’ve had a bit of an office injury.
WOOLF: An office injury! Ran into a desk or something?
GOSLING: Well, of course I made a New Year's commitment that I'm going to get fit, Katie. So I started—
WOOLF: And blew your knee out?
GOSLING: Yeah, doing a couple of exercises. Nah, but I've been getting around, been to the doc, and I'll be fit as a fiddle in no time.
WOOLF: Good on you, Luke. Thanks so much for your time this morning. We'll talk to you again soon.
GOSLING: Great to see you again, Katie.
WOOLF: You too. That is Luke Gosling there, the Member for Solomon.