(Australian Associated Press)
Scott Morrison may be proud of his history of stopping migrant boats from coming to Australia, but he believes an ancient boat ramp built by Indonesian traders on the coast of the Northern Territory is a symbol of the region’s enterprising history.
The prime minister has told an event in Canberra, showcasing territory products and spruiking the region’s potential, that he spotted the ramp while fishing with former NT Chief Minister Shane Stone.
“We had no idea how old this old boat ramp was and it said something about the trading nature of the north,” Mr Morrison said on Wednesday night.
“Territorians have always got trade. They have always got and understood that they are part of a region that is much bigger than just their small part of it.”
Chief Minister Michael Gunner used the event to call for greater investment in the Northern Territory, and outlines the region’s hopes to attract a bigger population.
“Just imagine what we could do with more people,” he said.
Energy will be an important industry for the territory going forward, Mr Gunner said, since it lifted its moratorium on fracking in the past year.
The prime minister noted the territory has fewer people living in it than the Sutherland Shire in which he lives in Sydney.
“When Michael comes to me… and he says, I’ve got a plan to build the population of the territory, well they’re the sort of plans we’re going to back,” he said.
“I’m always going to back those who are having a go. Territorians are having a go, and I’m going to back them.”
Growing the population is also supported by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who said the territory was far from the blokey, 1980s culture that some still thought it was.
The Labor leader said he’s open to the idea of creating incentives and allowances for people to make the move.
“I think there’s a lot of dormant Territorians in the broader population,” he said.