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February 3, 2022

Leader of the Opposition, Lia Finocchiaro, says the Gunner Labor Government needs to immediately outline what support is being provided to remote communities now under biosecurity zone restrictions.

“This is a clear indication the Federal Government has lost faith in the Gunner Government’s ability to manage COVID in the bush. Labor has failed remote communities with its bungled vaccine rollout which has left Aboriginal people with less protection against the virus.

“Communication from the Gunner Labor Government about the reintroduction of biosecurity zones has been atrocious. The Secure NT website took hours to update, no media release has been issued, and Michael Gunner hasn’t even posted on Facebook.

“It must be Government’s priority to ensure Territorians who are most vulnerable to COVID are protected throughout this pandemic, but the Chief Minister needs to clearly articulate his plan. He can’t just cut off communities when the Territory is experiencing a critical food and supply shortage.

“The Gunner Government is still unable to explain to the people of the Barkly whether or not Tennant Creek has been included in the biosecurity zone restrictions. The CLP Member for Barkly, Steve Edgington, is still none the wiser whether he can travel to Darwin for Parliamentary sittings in the next fortnight.

“There are serious supply and access challenges for remote communities right across the Territory and for further restrictions to be placed on communities means there needs to be a plan on how the Gunner Labor Government is going to provide support, food and essential services,” said Mrs Finocchiaro.

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Steve Edgington, says it’s one thing to declare biosecurity zones when there are no issues with access, but when access to remote communities is severely compromised and then you add a biosecurity zone there are going to be significant logistical issues.

“Bad weather has completely isolated communities like Ampilatwatja, the outstations of Irrultja, Atnungurrpa, those living in Arlparra and the many other family outstations in the Utopia Homelands in the Barkly. Ampilatwatja’s airstrip is closed and phone communication has only just been restored after being out for over ten days, which means food and essential supplies are already scarce.

“We want the Chief Minister to make his plan clear, so Territorians living in our in remote communities can have confidence they’ll still have adequate support and supplies,” said Mr Edgington.

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