Letter from Luke

ANZAC Day and the May Day March and concert on the Esplanade, for me, always seems to mark the start of the Dry Season. We’ve had some late season rain, but cooler weather is on the way and the Top End’s fabulous festival season is about to commence.
I’ve often remarked in passing about what a magical multicultural city Darwin is. Well now is the time to take full advantage of our good fortune. There is no need to pay thousands of dollars in airfares and accommodation to experience the world’s great cultures. They are here on our doorstep.
I recently had a great time at the Nepalese Festival down at the Waterfront, meeting members of this growing local community and enjoying the cultural displays. I had fond recollections of my first overseas trip – as a 17-year-old schoolboy – to this remarkable country, trekking through the ‘roof of the world’.
The NT Thai Association also hosted a big day down at the Waterfront celebrating the Water Festival ‘Songkran’ – the Thai New Year. Fantastic Thai culture and entertainment and Bangkok style street food, really good fun. Music festival Bass in the Grass is on Saturday 19 May with a fantastic line up, including Paul Kelly, Illy, Vera Blue and a heap more. It’s always a big day at the Amphitheatre, so I encourage all to make use of the free bus services that’ll be running to and from the Botanic Gardens.
Palmerston Friday night markets have kicked off again and I’ll be down there pretty regularly, with Warren Snowdon, Eva Lawler and Tony Sievers enjoying the music and the atmosphere. Please feel welcome to come over, say hello, and let me know what’s on your mind and what ideas you have.
Down in Melbourne, the mighty Magpies are enjoying a promising start to the AFL season,but these days my first footy loyalties are with the Territory Thunder. I was very proud to accept the role of Vice-Patron of Thunder this year and I want to wish coach Andrew ‘Hodgy’ Hodges, Captain Shannon Rioli and the boys the best of luck for the 2018 season. Best of luck to the NT Thunder Women’s team too, who are joining the VFL Women’s comp for the first time. The Thunder Women’s first home game at TIO Stadium is on Saturday the 19 of May – head down to show your support!
Lately I’ve been very involved in trying to understand why it costs Territorians an ‘arm and a leg’ to fly south to visit family and friends. Last month we had the Senate Inquiry in town and I ran a FairFaresNT campaign, so that the committee could hear first-hand the experiences of Territorians and the effects of the exorbitant cost of airfares. I will continue to follow this closely, particularly the upcoming hearings in Canberra to see if we can cut through the ‘voodoo economics’ and get some straight answers from airlines and airports about pricing. I’m just about to head off to Canberra for the Budget sittings of the Federal Parliament. As always, I’ll be doing my best to ensure that the people of Darwin and Palmerston get a fair shake when Scomo (how he refers to himself) starts dividing out the national budget.
Finally, I want to leave you with a plug for the ‘DigniTEA’ event to be held on 26 May at Sky City. This is a fundraiser for an organisation that does a great job in assisting the less fortunate in the community, particularly homeless girls and women.
For more info, check out www.sharethedignity.com.au
See you next month.

Cheers, Luke