Scott Morrison is banking on disaffection with the Northern Territory’s Labor government to win over votes federally, linking chief minister Michael Gunner with federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
The prime minister chatted with Darwin businesspeople at a breakfast event on Wednesday about Labor’s plans and the local economic management efforts.
“The Gunner government is the worst government in Australia,” he declared, joking about them having taken advice on a return to surplus from former federal Labor treasurer Wayne Swan.
“I would urge all Territorians to send the Gunner government a message on 18 May.”
Local accountant Duncan Bell enthusiastically underlined the prime minister’s message.
“Bill reckons that Michael’s doing a great job so I’d hate to see him doing a bad job,” he told Mr Morrison.
The prime minister also met budding entrepreneur Angus Copelin-Walters, 9, who is the self-styled “executive head of candy” of his two-year-old business Croc Candy.
Angus set up his company after seeing homeless people on television and wanting to do something to help them.
He donates his proceeds to charity and was thrilled to be able to give two of his crocodile eye lollipops to the prime minister, who promised to pass them on to his daughters Abbey and Lily.
Mr Morrison also received a book, Awake to Righteousness: A life-changing look at the substance of salvation, from Silvija Majetic, who told AAP it was from the Body of Christ churches.
“All the churches in Darwin show our support to the prime minister,” she told AAP.
Lingiari candidate Jacinta Price, who is hoping to tear down Labor’s 8.2-point margin in the seat that covers all the NT outside of Darwin, said they had a huge fight ahead.
She almost channelled Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, saying: “The coalition government has what it takes to bring us to our former glory as Territorians.”
Mr Morrison has used his first campaign trip to Darwin, home to more than 5000 Defence personnel and their families, to unveil a $63 million national package to support veterans adapt to civilian life.
This includes building veterans’ wellbeing centres in Darwin, Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Nowra and Wodonga to integrate government assistance, health services, advocacy and wellbeing support tailored to those who have served.
Another $16.2 million would go to Soldier On, Team Rubicon and RSL state branches for programs to help former servicemen and women find meaningful civilian jobs in their post-military life.
The government will exempt veterans who are totally and permanently incapacitated from a new limit of 12 sessions with allied health providers such as physiotherapists, in a move expected to cost $17 million.
This restriction was due to start on July 1 and allied health workers told a Productivity Commission inquiry the measure was an “archaic” model of care that would have led to people missing out on much-needed treatment.
Mr Morrison is also expected to visit the newly-arrived Marine contingent and announce the rotation will reach its full strength of 2500 by July.
United States Marine Corps personnel are now arriving in the Northern Territory to commence the eighth rotation of the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin.
He is also expected to make a major health announcement.