The Prime Minister “will get” to Alice Springs “in the near future”, as the Opposition calls for a bipartisan approach to urgently address the besieged town.
Each night, hundreds of children unable to return home are roaming the streets, drinking alcohol and committing crimes.
The so-called grog-ban expired last year, meaning rates of domestic, family and sexual violence have spiked as well.
Locals are reporting feeling unsafe in their own beds, due to a rise in violent home invasions.
With the crisis threatening to undermine the government’s Voice ambitions, Peter Dutton has questioned why Anthony Albanese won’t join him “today” in travelling to the town and tackling the issue in a bipartisan way.
Instead, Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said Mr Albanese “will get there in the near future”.
Anthony Albanese ‘will get’ to the besieged Alice Springs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageThe town is in the grips of a crime crisis that has left locals feeling ‘unsafe’. Picture: Facebook / Action for Alice 2020The Alice Springs mayor has called for more federal government help. Picture: Action for Alice/Facebook
Mr Dutton – who has been accused of playing politics with the issue – has called for the government to send in Australian Federal Police and other services to restore law and order.
He also said the government should urgently reintroduce alcohol sale bans – despite the NT Chief Minister saying she will not back any “race-based” intervention.
Mr Dutton said it was beyond that.
“It’s not a race thing. It’s a law and order and crime problem … and the Prime Minister has the resources, the ability, and should show the leadership to deal with this issue,” he told the Nine Network.
On Monday, Lingiari MP Marion Scrymgour broke ranks with her party, and said the crisis in Alice Springs was threatening to undermine the Voice.
The government maintains its position that they’re working with the NT government, but have denied sending the AFP.
“No one is saying it should just be the NT government left to deal with it,” Mr Shorten told the Nine Network.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton says Alice Springs is the most pressing issue in the country. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
Mr Dutton said there was no matter more urgent at present than the crisis in Alice Springs, which has left people feeling unsafe.
“This is beyond politics,” he said.
“This is a problem that’s been years – decades – in the making. There’s goodwill on both sides to fix it.”
He said the NT Police Minister was “beyond incompetent” and the matter could no longer just be left to the territory government.
“I want the Prime Minister to stand up. I want us to really address what is the biggest issue in our country today, and I was hoping that the Prime Minister would take up the offer (to go to Alice today), because it does require both sides to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s what we’re offering to do,” he said.
Mr Shorten agreed.
“Park the politics at the door,” he said.
“To tackle it, you are going to need to get everyone working together.”
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