Paul Kirby believes an experienced, hardworking Labor team will be needed to rebuild the Northern Territory after the coronavirus crisis.
The Minister for Primary Industry and Resources says the economy was showing signs of improving when the pandemic struck. “Businesses were telling me that they were expecting the best dry season they had enjoyed for a long time.”
Paul believes that the Labor Government deserves to be re-elected because it has worked hard and well to drag the economy out of recession – a downturn that began three years before Labor took office. “If Territorians stick with us they know we will fulfil our promises to them,” he says. “We offer experience and stability – we have a good, stable Cabinet under Michael Gunner.”
He says many major projects are just getting underway. For instance, global resources company Newmont is showing faith in the Territory’s future by investing $1 billion in the Tanami gold mine. And the Minister is confident Santos will invest billions of dollars in the Territory over the next decade by backfilling its gas supply and building another production train at the Darwin LNG plant.
He believes this will enable the Territory to create a manufacturing hub, fuelled by gas and, increasingly, by renewable energy. And the $400 million ship lift at East Arm will help create a marine industry. “Labor is creating jobs and working towards diversifying the economy so that the NT can stand on its own feet.”
He says “we need to do better” in helping mining companies through the often-complicated procedures to operate without lowering environmental protection standards. Paul, who is the ALP Member for the seat of Port Darwin, which includes the city centre, says the Government, working closely with the City of Darwin, has done much to improve his constituency.
The key initiative is the $200 million Darwin City Deal, which includes major capital works for cooling and greening the CBD, creating event and festival spaces, and promoting a more family friendly environment within the CBD. There are also several large infrastructure projects such as $10 million on improvements to Cullen Bay and the redevelopment of State and Civic squares.
“Business people tell me that they’ve been listened to and been treated better by this Labor government than they have under conservative governments.” Paul prides himself on being accessible. “People can always get hold of me. I’m always willing to do my best to help.” He is an electrician by trade and moved to the NT from South Australia to work for the Power and Water Corporation.
Paul showed his commitment to his Port Darwin constituency in the most romantic of ways – he got married to Bek Garrett in the Old Town Hall Ruins and held the reception on the Esplanade. The couple have a three-year-old daughter, Layla. TQ