There was no applause for the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison as he walked into the Airman's Mess at RAAF Base Tindal this morning despite bringing with him a billion dollar announcement.
In fact, it was quite awkward.
It was subdued as the nation's leader was shown around the growing base with almost a dozen security guards blending into the large pack of media advisers, photographers and journalists.
Flying into Tindal on a private jet last night the PM was there to announce $1.1 billion to expand the base to make way for a fleet of Strike Force Fighter jets, replacing the aging Hornets now over 30 years old.
"It's about jobs, that's why I'm here today," the minister said, "but even more significant than that, it's about the security and defence of Australia... at one of the most important bases in Australia."
But before the announcements, before the meet and greets and before ScoMo checked out one of the old jets but refused to hop into the drivers seat, the PM tucked into a hearty breakfast with a hundred or so base personnel called in from their usual duties.
It was there, as he walked in, he didn't get much of a reception, and waiting a beat for an applause that was never coming he quickly headed to the nearest table to strike up a conversation.
His questions ranged from 'where are you from?' to 'would you like bacon with that?' as he headed to the kitchen, donned an apron and got to serving with the chefs.
Senator Sam McMahon was also there getting in on the chit chat and the eggs on toast, but it appeared most of the air services personnel were just happy to be having a free breakfast.
Tindal has already seen the best part of a billion dollars over the past decade in preparation for the fleet of 16 super stealthy F-35A's worth about $2 billion.
Almost $500 million was invested in the building of an expansive Air Combat Capability building, opened today by Mr Morrison.
It was here, fanning away the flies, the PM caught up with some of the locals working on the project to hear about the trials and tribulations of living in the remote town of Katherine.
Katherine resident and custom cabinet maker Jeffrey Usher, who has been working on the multi-million dollar project for the past 18 months, told Mr Morrison his small business had been in "a bit of a lull" before the contract.
With the Tindal investment touting hundreds of jobs and an injection of more than $200 million into the Territory economy, hearing the project had been "brilliant" for Mr Usher put a smile on Mr Morrison's face.
"It has been amazing for our company to get a project like this," Mr Usher said.
"My guys have been here a lot for the past 18 months... it has kept us alive."
In his opening speech, Mr Morrison thanked LendLease, the multinational construction company in charge of the build, and the Indigenous workers who played "a huge role in the development of this facility".
"A peak engagement of the Indigenous Australians in the work that has been going here at 11 per cent - that is a tremendous achievement, to see the skills that have been built up... here in the Territory, and how that has been drawn into the project, not by accident, but on purpose," Mr Morrison said.
"I want to thank all of those who were very involved, the consulting firms, those who came and picked up the tools, those who were training others, they have a great future in the industries they've chosen and this project has enabled."
Tindal pulled out all the stops for the first prime ministerial visit in more than 20 years.
At every corner, military personnel stood at attention waiting for the long procession of cars transporting Mr Morrison and his flunkies around the base.
Air Force photographers and video journalists had been flown in from around the country, a parade of jets were launched into the sky and even Mac, the base's therapy dog had been brought out to meet the PM.
While the schedule was run tight on military time, the Mr Morrison made sure to stretch his minutes shaking hands with military dog handlers, firies and paramedics before being ushered into his car once the media crews had stopped their cameras.
For most of the military personnel on the base, it was their first opportunity talking with an Australian leader.
For the journalists, it was a chance to ask pressing questions, for which Mr Morrison fired back answers long ago committed to memory.
"RAAF Base Tindal plays an incredibly important role in Australia's efforts to ensure stable, secure, Indo-Pacific working particularly with our partners in the United States," Mr Morrison said.
"What that enables us to do is keep Australian's safe at the end of the day. What we are investing in here today is a further significant investment that is part of our broader defence plan.
"$1.1 billion dollars is going into RAAF Base Tindal to ensure it has the facilities, it has the air strips [and] it has the support arrangements in place for the Joint Strike Fighter jets and the broader exercises we are undertaking with our alliance partners.
"We back our defence forces to do the job we asked them to do and that job is to protect Australians, defend Australians and ensure our interests are able to be pursued."
Mr Morrison fended off questions about concerns on the rise of China saying the investment decision was made in 2016 in the Defence White Paper, and "the need to play a positive role in supporting the stability of the Indo-Pacific".
"With peace and stability comes prosperity," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison was asked to respond to a question on the toxic firefighting chemical PFAS, leaking off the RAAF base and a key concern for the Katherine community.
"We are currently in a mediation process, which you are probably aware of, in communities which have been impacted around the country, and I think those mediation processes are best assisted by engaging in good faith, which we are, and will continue to do," Mr Morrison said.
"Previous governments have just kicked that can down the road... Our government hasn't, we've stepped up."
In the wake of more than a $1 billion spend, Mr Morrison was also asked if he would be responding to dire homelessness rate, sitting at 31 times national level, just 15 minutes up the road in Katherine.
"Soon after I became prime minister I committed over a billion dollars to support remote and Indigenous housing here in the Territory.
"We've been providing budget support to the Northern Territory for some time and we are continuing to do that under the GST arrangement," he said.
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