Thursday, 3 December 2020
COVID-19: Northern Territory
I want to pay tribute to the people of Darwin, Palmerston and the greater Darwin area. Their work and their solidarity with each other, with all Territorians, during COVID have been absolutely outstanding. But, more than that, Territorians in the Top End have been working hard to support the return of Australians from overseas. At each successive stage of the ongoing crises in 2020, from bushfires to COVID, Territorians have been volunteering, whether they be firefighters going down south to fight fires or helping in the local community by making sure everyone had enough to eat when so many were left without support.
Territorians supported their neighbours. They supported workers who had lost their jobs. They supported businesses, to try to make sure they didn't go under. They supported international students who were struggling in those early months in particular. We supported the return to Australia of evacuees from Wuhan in China, and from the DiamondPrincess cruise ship. And, as the pandemic escalates, thousands of stranded Aussies are now coming home for Christmas—not enough of them, but thousands are coming home—through Darwin, and I'm so proud of what we're doing in the Top End for the nation.
I want to give a shout-out in particular to all the health professionals; the emergency responders, those first responders who do such a wonderful job; the members of the Australian Defence Force; service providers; and the cleaners and the workers—so many professions. We realised and it brought it home that, if you're stacking shelves in a supermarket, you're an essential worker. So many sectors of our economy contributed to keeping us all safe, fed and connected in 2020 in the Top End, and I'm very proud and thankful for all the work of Territorians during this time.
It's been a very tough year for all Australians and history will record this year as a year of painful dislocation, deprivation and loss for too many in our country, across the Indo-Pacific and around the world. But this year has refocused our minds on our national priorities as Australians. It has opened our eyes to some of the major opportunities in our own market, in sectors of our economy like tourism and manufacturing, that we have neglected for far too long.
In the NT, our new Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission, or TERC, gave us its final report. It flagged big opportunities in renewables, mining and other resources as well as manufacturing capabilities. Decarbonising the economy and achieving net zero emissions will benefit the Territory, which is already moving to becoming a regional leader in exporting renewable energy to Singapore through a $200 billion Sun Cable project.
It's great the Northern Territory is now open to the whole of Australia, and I invite everyone to visit Darwin, where the weather is warm and we also have beautiful Top End storms coming through now. The $5 million NT Summer Sale, which runs from 1 October to the 31 March 2021 offers a $200 discount for every $1,000 spent on an NT booking made through campaign partners. You can go to your travel agent and make a booking to come up to the Territory and, for every $1,000 you spend, you will save $200, so get on it. For military history buffs, you can't go to Gallipoli or visit the Western Front and you can't walk the Kokoda Track, so why not visit Australia's World War II battlefields in Darwin? Next February is the 79th anniversary of the bombing Darwin, and I welcome all Australians to come up and commemorate that with us. The million dollar fish competition is still on, so when you are up in the Territory and you throw a line in, you could win a million bucks. You will have a good time no matter what you do. You might win a $5,000 fish with half of it going to a charity of your choice. I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas, and please come up to the Territory.