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SUBJECTS: Kevin Andrews; territory rights; Industrial Relations bill. 

Joining us live on the line is the member for Solomon Luke Gosling, and I believe he’s in Canberra. Good morning to you, Luke. 

LUKE GOSLING, MEMBER FOR SOLOMON: Good morning, Katie. How are you?

WOOLF: Yeah, good mate. Are you in Canberra? Have I got that right?

GOSLING: I am, I flew down yesterday and I’ve got a fair few meetings lined up for today. But then Parliament sits for the first time this year tomorrow and we’ll be back into it. 

WOOLF: You sure will be. And Luke, I guess some of us are wondering whether euthanasia may be back on the agenda here in the Northern Territory, those laws, given the fact that Kevin Andrews, who obviously brought in that private member’s bill into the federal parliament that effectively squashed it as a legitimate Northern Territory law all those years ago. Well, he hasn’t got the pre-selection.

GOSLING: No, he’s been knocked off, Katie. I think they call him the Father of the House at the moment, he’s been in this place the longest, but he’s actually been defeated by a bloke who served in the same commando regiment as I did back in the day, and he has got the support of the local people in that area of Melbourne in the Liberal Party, and he will represent the Liberal Party at the next federal election. So Kevin Andrews will be finishing up in federal politics. I know a lot of Territorians would welcome that because of the role that he played in stopping territory rights for decades now. 

There might be an opportunity for everyone down here to start thinking about the fact that Territorians shouldn’t be second-class citizens and should be able to make our own laws.

WOOLF: Yeah, do you reckon it will mean that there’s going to be to be a bit of change, Luke? 

GOSLING: It’s hard to say, Katie. As you might remember in the last parliament I put up a private member’s bill that would repeal the Andrews bill to allow the NT to make these laws, but that wasn’t supported by the Morrison Government. So part of me thinks that they won’t shift on their position. Having said that, we’ve got to give it a crack, given that Kevin Andrews, moving on, may provide a bit of a rethink and maybe people will see what it is: not a debate about euthanasia, but a debate about the right of the territory, like the other states, to make their own laws.

WOOLF: Yeah, and I think that’s a really important point to make here. Obviously, the discussion about voluntary euthanasia can always become one, which is, you know, it’s quite personal for each and every person. But the whole point here is that Territorians don’t actually get the right to decide whether it is a right for us here in the territory, because it’s a decision that’s been made by our federal politicians. 

GOSLING: Exactly. And as in Victoria, WA, Tasmania is going to start debating it on the second of March, South Australia, all these jurisdictions are able to have a debate informed by their constituents—In our case, the people of the Northern Territory, through their elected representatives—having a say on what should happen. But we don’t get that opportunity, and they don’t here in Canberra, either. So, yeah, we’ll continue to push for the rights of the territories to not be second-class citizens and we’ll see how it goes. 

But there’s some other battles here in the industrial relations space. There are some concerns about some of the Morrison Government’s changes and they want to bring in that will affect employment of casuals and also changes to part-time work, effectively casualising it. So there’s those big battles to come in the coming weeks as well.

WOOLF: And Luke, is everybody going to be able to get there for parliament? I know that yesterday the ACT deputy chief health officer, Dr Vanessa Johnson, said that as a precautionary measure, anyone arriving from WA into the ACT who’s been to the Perth metro area or the Peel and south west regions of WA since January 25, they’ve got to self-quarantine. Do you know if it’s going to affect any of your federal counterparts?

GOSLING: Yeah it will, Katie, and I’ve chatted to a couple of them. They basically arrived at the airport and were told, ‘go to your accommodation and do not pass go, do not leave’. So one of them, Senator Patrick Dodson, a lot of Territorians would be familiar with, he’s flown all the way over from Broome via Perth to get that. He said, ‘if I’ve known, I never would have gotten on the bloody plane’. So there’s ramifications here. They’re going to need to quarantine because they won’t be accepted in the coming weeks of parliament at the end of February if they don’t quarantine now. Otherwise they go back to Perth, then they will be caught up in the need of quarantine. And it just makes you so happy to be a Territorian.

WOOLF: Oh, I reckon. That’s exactly right. It does just go to show you as well, I suppose, the vulnerability of it all, though, too, because WA have been going so well.

GOSLING: Yeah, they’ve been going really well. But it actually goes to this IR point that I mentioned before, Katie, what is continuing to happen is that there’s people working in the quarantine hotels. They’ve got secondary jobs as delivery people or whatever, casual jobs where they’re trying to scrape enough money to make a living, and they’re inadvertently spreading [COVID-19]. And you’ve had a jurisdiction like WA who’s done all the right things, kept everyone out—some people would say they kept people out for too long—but it gets undone because people can’t live on casual work. And that’s a big thing we’ll be pushing, is we have to have a quarantine system in the nation that’s coordinated. And they can look at the Northern Territory with Howard Springs obviously as a great way to manage it. But you should be paying people enough that they don’t have to have two and three jobs just to make ends meet when they’re doing that important quarantine work. So we’ll keep fighting down here for workers and to make sure that people really are being paid what they should be, it’s really important. 

WOOLF: Well Luke Gosling, the Member for Solomon, we always appreciate your time. Thanks very much for having a chat with us this morning.

GOSLING: Thank you, Katie, good on you.