COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
Labor clearly thinks it can get away with campaigning on a single issue: COVID-19.
Michael Gunner last night used the entire seven minutes the ABC TV makes available for political parties at election time for a self-congratulatory rant about his role as the saviour of the NT from annihilation by the Coronavirus.
What exactly did Mr Gunner do to keep the impact of the virus to a low level? He would not agree to a pre-election interview at which we were going to put that question to him, among others.
That’s democracy, Gunner style.
The fact is that there has been no community transmission in the NT, the few infected people came from outside the NT and they obediently entered quarantine and treatment.
The border closure he trumpets is a measure used variously by all states, and results from measures discussed at Federal level.
In mid-March Katherine Mayor Fay Miller and others, especially Aboriginal organisations, called for the NT borders to be closed which Mr Gunner now claims as his initiative.
In the absence of any explanation by the Chief Minister, the privileged situation of the NT is more a matter of its great fortune, rather than his accomplishment.
That leads to the question why the NT Government did absolutely nothing to take advantage of these rare opportunities.
We have lots of empty hotel rooms.
We have huge national parks where social distancing can be taken to extreme extents.
We have a railway on which a form of isolation can be achieved, and the passengers’ cars can be transported on flatbed trucks at the end of the train.
We can have as many military personnel as we need, free of charge, to assist with practically any kind of project (just ask Defence Minister Linda Reynolds).
The key initiative is the 14 day quarantine – no brain snapper.
Possessing the nation’s current biggest asset – a safe place to be – is all we can do telling the customers of our major non-welfare industry: Stay away, we don’t want you?
Trying to explain away his monster eight billion dollar deficit by claiming it was necessary to throw fistfuls of dollars into the crowd, achieving short-time sugar hits for a few, including some initiatives abysmally managed?
As the 2020 election rolls ‘round we’re looking at a lot of faces on coreflutes around a town which still has no flood mitigation, the rubbish dump is overflowing, the adjacent national parks remain under-developed, fire protection in them remains inadequate, the tourism industry is plummeting and what is probably the country’s biggest police force (per head of population) is incapable of dealing with 10-year-olds stealing motorcars.
Returning the Territory to Canberra control is now a matter of serious debate.
It is not my job to tell you how to vote and I am not. But here are some observations you may find useful.
No candidate from the CLP nor the ALP agreed to take part in an interview across the issues, referring us to unelected staff. We don’t do journalism by handouts from minders. Is this the way they are going to deal with constituents?
All other parties and the Independents we sought out had no trouble with engaging in this democratic process.
Photo: Mr Gunner, hand on heart, on Q&A last month. No time for local media.