SUBJECTS: Charles Darwin University construction, international students, housing measures, Barkly Regional Deal
JOURNALIST: Assistant Minister, can you tell us a little bit about this project? Can you talk a little bit about how this project is unique in the fact that it's in the CBD and how it would improve the construction industry or something like that?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM (ASSISTANT MINISTER): We think education is important. We want a strong education system across the country. That includes good infrastructure and I think this building is going to look magnificent. So, one, it's going to be an asset for the city, but secondly, I think it’s going to be a real driver of good education outcomes in this region. I also think young children coming to use the library will be inspired, but we'll also see an activation of international students who will live in the city. That'll be great for the town, and I think it'll be great in the long term for education in this region.
JOURNALIST: The campus was a big part of the City Deal with the Federal Government coming in to support it. How important is that aspect for developing the North, those City Deals and infrastructure projects like this?
CHISHOLM: Yeah, there's no doubt that infrastructure is important in regional areas and particularly Northern Australia. I think this facility is going to be a catalyst for further development in the North, and I see Darwin as a real hub of that. It is a great tropical city, it's got great strengths, but I think that this is going to be a real signature piece that says education is really important and a real driver of economic development as well. We're passionate about Northern Australia and that includes Darwin getting its fair share.
JOURNALIST: Darwin is like the rest of the country, we're having a property squeeze with rentals in particular. International students have been identified as struggling to get into the rental space, the Professor mentioned that. What sort of things is the Federal Government doing to help that? Because if you've got nowhere to live, they're not going to be able to come to the campus. CHISHOLM: Yeah, we understand that's a significant challenge and it's not unusual where you have a strong university presence, like you do here in Darwin. As you know, we've got policies which will be up for debate in the Senate next week on the Housing Australia Future Fund, which is to build social and affordable housing, which obviously frees up some of the rental markets at the same time. But we understand that there needs to be additional spots for students coming in. I was actually just talking to Professor Bowman about it. We think that this facility can be a real catalyst for further development and I'm sure the Professor can add to that.
JOURNALIST: Do you feel like it's a bit like build it and they will come, and it follows on from that?
CHISHOLM: I certainly think that there's a strong opportunity for local players in the market to use this building as a catalyst. I know that international student numbers are rebounding strongly, particularly here at CDU, so I think that there is a real opportunity for people to develop the housing that is necessary for international students.
JOURNALIST: Just on CDU, there's quite a few campuses, is that something that concerns you? There's this CDU campus, there's a Palmy [Palmerston] campus, there's a couple in the regions now. There's even one down at the waterfront as well. It just seems like a broken model in a way, just that it's so spread out.
CHISHOLM: It's not unusual for how universities have developed over time, but what we're increasingly seeing is universities want a presence in the city, and that is common across the country. It's happening in Tasmania, it's happening in other parts of the world, so I think it’s something that will be a real focal point and as I said before, I think it will provide that inspiration for younger generations, particularly as this will be such a public asset that will encourage the community to use it. So, I think that aspect of it is something that's really important, whereas you're not likely to get that at suburban-based campus. So, that for me is the really important part of it.
JOURNALIST: What about Tennant? You've got oversight of the Tennant Central Project as well, haven't you? Sorry, Barkly Regional Deal, how's that going? Is that being rolled out?
CHISHOLM: Look, I wish it was happening quicker than what it is, but that's the first opportunity I've had to go and spend time on the ground. I spent more than a day in Tennant Creek. I went through Ali-Curung, Ampilatwatja and Arlparra on the way to Alice Springs, so I got to be on the ground, talking face to face with people, building relationships, and there's no doubt that it's going to take a lot of ongoing, dedicated work, but I'm confident we're making progress. Thanks everyone. Thank you.