The Turnbull government is open to a “city deal” in all regional areas of the Northern Territory to boost jobs, investment and improve community services.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is in Alice Springs on Wednesday to meet with community leaders, just weeks after meeting with representatives in the remote town of Tennant Creek.
During that visit Mr Turnbull unveiled plans for a “regional deal” – mirroring the multi-million dollar city deals his government has been rolling out – for the Barkly Region.
The prime minister said that while a similar deal was not yet on the cards for Alice Springs, he would be discussing its potential with mayor Damien Ryan.
“You can’t snap your fingers and do this all at once,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio in Alice Springs on Wednesday.
“But every region, every city – you would have a regional deal or city deal where you have the federal government, state government and the local government working together.”
Both Tennant Creek and Alice Springs are facing problems with unemployment, child protection and crime.
The deals involve the three levels of government coming together with community leaders to set priorities and objectives for a region, as well as economic and social development plans.
The Country Liberal Party is hopeful of winning the federal seat of Lingiari, held by veteran Labor MP Warren Snowdon, at the next election due by mid-May 2019.
Last year, Alice Springs Town Council told a parliamentary committee the town of 27,000 residents was prepared to put in $800,000 towards a “city deal”.
The council said Alice Springs was an ideal place for the relocation of government agencies, such as the prime minister’s department, indigenous affairs and the science agency CSIRO.
“As such, council anticipates collaboration with the Australian government and Northern Territory government, in the interests of ensuring economic growth, as well as suitable investment and reform, to ensure revitalisation of the Alice Springs CBD,” the council said in its submission.
While the overall unemployment rate is five per cent, for indigenous people it is just under 20 per cent.
The council is also keen to pursue solar energy, having previously benefited from $40 million in federal grant funding.
There have been local concerns about the treatment of young people in detention, as well as overcrowding and pressures on local youth justice workers.
Work is underway on implementing the findings of a royal commission into youth justice.