Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $1.1 billion investment at Tindal while 15 kilometres away Katherine’s homelessness rate sits highest in the nation.
Katherine Times, Journalist: Roxanne Fitzgerald
Mr Morrison jetted into the Tindal Royal Australian Air Force Base last Friday to announce more than a billion dollars for large-scale expansions in preparation for a fleet of 16 Joint Strike Fighter jets worth a combined $2 billion.
“RAAF Base Tindal plays an incredibly important role in Australia’s efforts to ensure a stable and secure Indo-Pacific, working particularly with our partners in the United States,” Mr Morrison told media on Friday.
“And what that enables us to do is keep Australians safe, at the end of the day. Now, what we’re investing in here today is a further tranche of the significant investment that’s part of our broader defence plan.
“$1.1 billion is going further into the RAAF Base Tindal here to ensure that it has the facilities, it has the airstrips, it has the support arrangements in place that will support the placement of the Joint Strike Fighters here and the broader exercises that we’re able to undertake with our alliance partners.”
During the visit, the Prime Minister also officially opened Tindal’s new Air Combat Capability facility, which has reportedly injected $242 million into the Territory’s economy, with 64 per cent of the total work packages awarded to Northern Territory businesses.
“So it’s about jobs why I’m here today,” Mr Morrison said.
But in Katherine, hundreds of people who are experiencing homelessness are unemployed and are becoming entrenched in poverty.
The town remains in a housing crisis with more people homeless, per capita, than anywhere else in Australia.
The Katherine Accommodation Action group has called for a regional deal similar to that of Tennant Creek and the Barkly, as well as short-term accommodation and more housing to alleviate the wait of up to six years.
The Barkly Regional Deal is an agreement between all three levels of government aimed at improving social outcomes for its constituents.
NT Shelter executive officer Peter McMillan has said Katherine has a massive problem on its hands with up to half of requests for assistance going unmet because there is not enough funding, severe over crowding in public housing and no strategy in place.
But when Mr Morrison was asked on Friday about how his Government was helping in light of a billion dollar spend, he said: “Well, we have been.”
“Soon after becoming Prime Minister, I included an over $1 billion dollar, 10-year program on the remote and Indigenous housing support here in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“As Treasurer and as Prime Minister, we put an additional $270 million into the Northern Territory budget so they can do their job, which involves housing in the Northern Territory.”
Mr Morrison said the government had been providing support for the Northern Territory “for some time” and was continuing to meet commitments.
“So we’ve been providing that budget support to the Northern Territory now for some time and we’re continuing to do that under the GST arrangement, which I was able to include and we were able to legislate,” he said.
“So, you know, it’s not a question of one or the other. It’s a question of doing both and we’re meeting our commitments to both.”
The original article can be viewed here.