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February 4, 2022

Shadow Minister for Territory Families, Joshua Burgoyne, says it is baffling the Gunner Labor Government has refused to support a request from NT Foodbank to airdrop food and essential supplies to Alice Springs to support communities, many of which are now locked down in biosecurity zones.

“Foodbank made the request to the Gunner Government after it was advised by the Federal Home Affairs office that the Commonwealth is willing to provide supplies, as long as the NT Government approves it through the Territory Controller, Jamie Chalker.

“Foodbank’s Alice Springs depot has roughly three days’ worth of food remaining, which is why they made the request to Canberra for support. CEO, Greg Pattinson, has revealed Foodbank stocks are at critical levels after representatives from Territory Families bought out most of the supplies. It’s incredibly disappointing a Government agency has gone directly against advice from the Territory Controller not to panic buy, or stockpile.

“Mr Pattinson says that his request for Commonwealth assistance was rejected by the office of the Territory Controller via email. Mr Pattinson was told: ‘With all of the provided information presented to him, Mr Chalker was not satisfied that Commonwealth assistance is required at this point. As such, he did not authorise the formal submission of this request.’

“The fact that a Government agency has stockpiled supplies, against advice from the Territory Controller, which has led to this shortage is astonishing. What’s more concerning is the subsequent request from Foodbank, to ensure supplies to vulnerable Territorians are secure, has been rejected by Government.

“According to a report in The Australian, Western Australia – which is grappling with its own supply shortages due to extreme weather – has managed to secure truckloads of food from major retailers which have been diverted from the Northern Territory. Michael Gunner needs to accept the support being offered by the Federal Government so Territorians don’t face further delays for essential supplies.

“The Chief Minister needs to explain how one of his own agencies has cleaned out essential supplies and why he’s ignored calls for Federal support. The appropriate response from Michael Gunner would be to support this request for food airdrops. Give Foodbank the support they need to continue their crucial work here in Central Australia to provide essential food and supplies to those most in need,” said Mr Burgoyne.

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