Remarks at Morning Tea with Alice Springs Community Leaders - 8 August 2018

August 8, 2018





Thank you. Still a town like Alice.


We have a granddaughter called Alice so I'm very pleased to be with you - wish she could have joined us. Let me put that handsome gift down.


Ok now on my steps, the Prime Minister's walking challenge, which I think has only a couple of days - four days left. Well I have achieved my million steps. And as of today 7,235 steps.


Is that all right Your Worship?




Well done. Where are you on that list Prime Minister?




There is someone called Keith D who has done like, six million steps.




He doesn't have a job like yours.




We don't - no - Lucy has wondered whether his Fitbit is attached to a hyperactive fox terrier dog.




No but it's good. Look it's - I'll talk about that briefly. It's been a big issue actually walking and fitness because, you know, the biggest the biggest, probably the biggest public health success we've had in Australia has been the reduction in smoking. The single most readily avoidable cause of illness.


But the next thing is obviously healthy lifestyles, obesity and that's more complex because the smoking you can just say, "Hey don't smoke". It's not like eating chocolate which you could eat in moderation or alcohol you can drink in moderation. So, the healthy living message is a much more complex one and so we're trying a lot of things in the walking challenge. I think it will and hopefully it'll get more support next year, it's done quite well. But I think we need to do more.


So having slightly stepped off the track with my discussion about walking from the Mayor, can I thank you very much, so much Kumali, for the very warm welcome to Arrernte country. I'd love to learn some of your language I'm actually the first Prime Minister to speak in language in the parliament in the Ngunnawal language of the people of the Canberra area. And I'm very keen, I was talking to Jacinta and her dad about this last night, Australia, Indigenous Australian languages are so numerous there are over, according to Michael McDaniel, my friend who is the head of - he's a great guy he's a Wiradjuri man but he's head of AIATSIS which is a very, very important institution in Canberra.


According to him there's over 360 distinct Aboriginal languages in Australia, each of them as distinct one from the other as Hungarian is from Spanish. So you can imagine, in addition to that, hundreds more dialects and local variations.


So, there's a gigantic richness there and it's something that I'm very passionate about supporting, the promotion and understanding and retention of. We've put a lot of money into AIATSIS and I know it's something Nigel too is very committed to.


So, I want to thank you for your very warm welcome. Acknowledge that we are here on the land of the Arrernte people and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging of which we met. We met an emerging leader out at the Little Sisters town camp just a little while a little baby and a few others at the Braitling school today.


I want to acknowledge Nigel being here today and of course our outstanding CLP candidate for Lingiari Jacinta Price who's invited me here to Alice Springs to be with you all today. Welcome Dale, good to see you. Well I'm here on your part of the world but we had good discussions in Tennant Creek and the Territory MLA is here too.


It is great as the Mayor said that we got all levels of government working together. You know, Jacinta of course was elected for a second term onto this town council a year ago and she's deeply involved within her community as well as communities right through the Northern Territory. And as I said this morning she would be and will be a truly authentic, powerful, eloquent voice for the Northern Territory, for Lingiari in the Federal Parliament in our government and that is where the her voice, her commitment, her passion can really deliver.


So it's great to be back in the Territory. My job really - I was interviewed on the radio this morning here, I was more of a sort of been given a bit of a talking to, as much as anything else, I did make the point to the to the announcer that part of my job as Prime Minister was to listen to people who don't have microphones because there's a lot of people who have strong opinions that do.


And so my job is to get around this very big country whether I'm in the west coast of Tasmania or in central Australia or Northern Australia or in Western Australia, right around the country. Whether it's in drought or in good times, to be there to support Australians to realise their dreams and above all to listen to them. And to listen both to elders and emerging elders, that's you.


You'll all become elders. I know it seems inconceivable that you could ever be as old as me but you will, one day, and we want to hear from you as well.


Now just in terms of the Territory in this year's budget alone we committed $180 million for upgrades to the Central Arnhem Road to progressively upgrade to a two lane sealed road. We committed $100 million to progressively upgrade the Buntine Highway to a two lane sealed road strengthening links to markets and reducing freight costs for people in the cattle business.


We're providing $550 million over five years to support remote housing and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the Territory and Nigel of course negotiated that for our part.


Our Federal Budget fully funds a new five year public hospital agreement that will, in the case of the Northern Territory, deliver $1.99 billion, let's call it $2 billion of funding between 2020-21 and 2024-25. And that is over a five, comparing it to the previous five year agreement, that's an increase of 50 per cent or an additional $667 million beyond the current agreement.


So, when you hear people say and they may be our political opponents in the Labor Party or elsewhere, that my government is reducing funding for public hospitals. That is a complete lie, absolute lie.


Funding is increasing every single year and you can see very substantial increases in funding here. In fact the ABC, which is not always one of my greatest admirers, did actually fact check that statement the other day and confirmed that what I've just told you is absolutely correct.


Now when it comes to education from the 1st of January, 2018 our quality schools program will grow recurrent school funding from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $29.5 billion in 2027. And that'll see the Australian government invest a record $243.5 billion over that period 2018 to 2027. So again when people say the government is reducing funding for schools, again it's an absolute lie. The numbers are there. They speak for themselves.


And of that funding $4.2 billion is specifically additional funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the loading that we have on the general funding that goes across the board for Indigenous students.


Of course this is a community of hard working business people here in Alice Springs and we had a great discussion at Wicked Needs Bakery earlier and we had a good discussion with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and other business people last night.


We've already had very good feedback actually, from business appreciating the tax relief that we've delivered, tax relief for small and medium businesses up to $50 million turnover already delivered and in operation. Overwhelmingly family owned, Australian family owned businesses.


And of course we have delivered middle income tax relief in this financial year 87,000 Territorians will benefit from our middle income tax relief. And when our personal income tax reform is fully rolled out over the next five years or so, it will mean that 94 per cent of Australians will not pay more than 32.5 cents additional tax in any dollar they earn, so that's providing real incentive for people to get on, if they want to work, do an extra shift, start a new business, apply for a promotion. They know that as they earn more money they're not going to be going to one higher tax bracket after another.


So, these are very, very big reforms that are supporting the strong economic growth that we've seen with strong jobs growth that we've seen. We are determined to deliver for the Territory and for Alice Springs and that's why I'm here and I'm really here to listen.


That's my job to listen to you and to make sure that as I was doing last night on my iPhone, you saw me there Your Worship, I was there. But it's better, I prefer meetings to use the iPad you get a bit of RSI of the thumbs if you keep taking long notes on your iPhone.


But anyway, we're here to listen and I just want to thank you for your warm welcome. I want to thank Jacinta for organising this visit and Nigel for his outstanding leadership and support. Nigel is an extraordinary colleague. He is as passionate as he is effective. He combines enormous enthusiasm and energy with a really keen insight into the problems and how to cut through them and get the solution.


So thank you all very much and I look forward to having a further discussion in our meeting.






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