Rptr Nigel Scullion, good afternoon.
SCULLION Good afternoon, Rohan how are you?
Rptr I’m well, did you know this was coming today?
SCULLION No idea at all. Somebody poked their head in the door and said something about something has appeared on the NT News website or something and five minutes later there was sort of rumours and then there was the announcement of Mr Connolly. So no, I certainly didn’t know it was coming.
Rptr Alright, do you welcome the news today, do you think it’s a good move?
SCULLION Well look, I think it’s – we’ve had a period I think everybody will acknowledge of instability within the wing. I don’t know how many sort of this, it’s been all about introspection about what the wing is doing for the wing and I think everybody in the wing and the Country Liberals acknowledge that it is time now for complete stability. Obviously the numbers that Adam Giles got gives him just overwhelming support and I know that the people of the Northern Territory will be very pleased that we are entering into a period of stability and we know that will move to a period of prosperity.
Rptr Alright, so do you think that Terry Mills was doing a good job?
SCULLION Well it’s very hard for me to judge. On the face of it Terry did a great job, he led the Country Liberals back into government and we particularly won a huge mandate from Aboriginal people in the regions of the Territory to form a conservative government. Now that’s a great job in itself but you know, I didn’t work for Terry, I work for a different parliamentary leader, Tony Abbott and I have to say he’s doing a great job.
Rptr Alright but I guess as a Territorian did you think that Terry Mills was a good Chief Minister?
SCULLION Well I don’t oh look, I don’t think he was there long enough to make a judgement you know, on his contribution. I think he would have been shocked. Imagine suddenly knowing that you’ve inherited a debt of $5.5bn and nobody in the Northern Territory knew that. The extent of the debt and just the parlous state there wasn’t a thing but not only the pantry wasn’t empty, there wasn’t a pantry and I guess it was very, very hard times. He came under a great deal of public criticism, he was constantly harassed in the media for the parlous situation and the response that they had to give in terms of Power and Water. It was a very, very hard time for him and there was a great deal of instability in the party.
Look, he did a good job under very difficult circumstances but I am personally, just as another Territorian very pleased that that time of instability has now ended and now they’re now instead of thinking about the Country Liberals they’re thinking about Territorians.
Rptr Okay, well you said he wasn’t in there long enough to – to work out whether he was a good Chief Minister or not? So that said should he have been given more time?
SCULLION Well look I know, Rohan you’d like to you know go into those details. Can I say the thing that excites me and should excite every Territorian particularly those from Alice Springs you know, this is not only the first indigenous Chief Minister of the Northern Territory but the first indigenous head of government in the history of this country.
And look, I am happy to go and wobble and waltz around the machinations of who said what and maybe I’ll slip up and I promise you I won’t but I think this is genuinely a time for significant excitement. Not only for the issues you’re talking about, about stability, focus on Territorians, focus on repaying debt and dealing with this absolutely obscene legacy that Labor have left us.
Rptr So what should…
SCULLION …celebration for Territorians particularly those people in Alice Springs.
Rptr Okay, so what should be his first job as Chief Minister after all the proceedings of this week? Should it be winding back the Power and Water increases or is there something else that you think he should get his teeth into?
SCULLION Look…look…look, I am not going to try to verbal Adam about what he should and shouldn’t do. As a Territorian first of all I’m, just as a Territorian delighted that we are entering a period of stability. We’ve got a tough road ahead. I know Adam and I’ve known Adam for a very long time. You know, your listeners in Alice Springs will know him better than anyone. He’s very well known in Alice Springs. They all know he is a very, very smart man, he’s a very safe pair of hands and whatever he comes up he will be an excellent communicator. He’ll hold the team together. You know the Territory has a, all of us as Territorians have a very tough road ahead courtesy of the previous Labor Government.
I you know, let’s we’ve yet to hear from Adam and you’ll no doubt be able to put these questions to Adam about what’s first. I have to say he sent me, I was sitting in Question Time today and I got an email from him with this massive consultation document about Local Government. He said well you know, as Indigenous Affairs Opposition Minister he’s sort of putting it past me and I was thinking to myself you know, what a huge body of work that is being prepared for the Territory’s future and I think it is timely.
We’ve had a change of leader, we’ve got the stability, they’ve got the plans and I think it’s just a great moment. I am personally delighted to be associated with the Northern Territory, with Alice Springs and the very first Aboriginal head of government in this country’s history.
Rptr Are you concerned about his age and experience? I mean you were talking about the work you’ve seen him do but I mean he hasn’t really been in parliament for that long?
SCULLION Well he’s been around politics for a very long time. Adam Giles was actually as a Waradjeri man, I think he’s from in New South Wales, he’s been interested in politics for a very long time. But he’s been a very capable individual, he’s certainly assisted me in Indigenous Affairs for a very long time. You know, I don’t think you know, it’s going to be – he’s 39, I know he’s 39 because he’s invited me like most of Alice Springs to his 40th birthday coming up and you know, like I don’t know, is that too young? I don’t know, I reckon Adam Giles history will show no, that’s just a perfect age.
Rptr Have you spoken to him today or had any contact with him today?
SCULLION No, I haven’t mate. I’ve – in fact I was tempted to text him to find out whether this is all rubbish or another silliness or whatever. The tsunami of enquiries from the media…
Rptr Fair enough, alright look, I know you’ve got to dash off so I appreciate your time talking to us this afternoon.
SCULLION Great to talk to you Rohan.
Rptr Thanks very much. That’s Nigel Scullion the CLP Senator for the Northern Territory.
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