2CC 1206 AM, Breakfast

CHRIS SMITH, HOST: Okay, let’s catch up with Kristy McBain, the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories and also the Member for Eden-Monaro. G’day, Kristy. How are you?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Good morning, how are you?

CHRIS SMITH: All right, okay – I think. The Federal Budget from a regional perspective and, I guess, you know, if I’m being objective, you’ve got to say, well, depends on the region – if you’re around Rocky then it’s got a great thing because Matt Canavan’s been banging on about the Rocky Ring Road, and there’s a few other places up there that have not been so nicely looked upon by the Federal Budget – but what is it from your perspective?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Well, I think the troubling thing is Matt Canavan is misleading the public in Rocky. There are –

CHRIS SMITH: Why am I sorry I mentioned that?

KRISTY MCBAIN: There are a lot of press releases issued by the former government but press releases don’t build things like the Rocky Ring Road. Our government is the one that committed to the planning and design of that between 2007 and 2013. These guys have been talking about doing something for nine years and still haven’t dug a hole for the Rocky Ring Road. We’ve had some discussions with the Queensland Government, and as it turns out, the funding that was allocated to it is probably not even half of what it will cost to build it.

So, what we need to do is make sure that, number one, the design and planning requirements are complete. There are a bunch of heritage studies and Aboriginal cultural studies that need to take place on that road. Then we need to allocate the appropriate and full funding to it. It still sits in our long-term Budget and will still be completed. What we’ve done is actually understand what needs to take place on that project so we can allocate proper and full funding to it, which will we do in the forward estimates. And –

CHRIS SMITH: Okay, I hear what you’re saying, and I’ve taken that, yeah, for sure. But why would then – it hasn’t appeased a lot of people up there a lot of truckies particularly, because they’re staging a protest and they’re going to drive from Rocky or around about that area all the way to Canberra to protest.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Again we talk about what can be done. The other side has been talking about the Rocky Ring Road for nine years and haven’t done a thing. It sat in the Budget and not a thing has been done about it. So, it’s quite disappointing that we have members like Matt Canavan who mislead the public.

I think the important thing to note is the Regional Budget Statement outlines 760 measures or initiatives that we’re taking as part of the regional budget. There are two new grant funding rounds – a billion dollars investing in our regions and the Regional Precincts and Partnerships program. We are putting more money into our regional budget measures than was in the previous March Budget, which was confirmed in Senate only Friday last week.

CHRIS SMITH: Okay. So, there’s been a bit of flood recovery in the electorate, in your electorate. And I think you popped into Cooma to visit flood-affected businesses during the week, did you not?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, I popped in yesterday. We all saw on the news last week the flash flooding that occurred in Cooma, and a lot of that was through –

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, that was around Bombala, too, wasn’t it?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, there was flooding in Bombala and also Bega. Over the last couple of days, we’ve had flooding in Yass and Murrumbateman, Avalon and Tumut. So, parts of the electorate are really copping it. And for those people who have been to Jindabyne lately they’ll see that those banks have been burst for some time and those waters are into a whole range of recreational areas.

So a tough time for everyone. And when I was in Cooma yesterday, I was speaking to one business owner who said they just feel like it’s one thing after another. And, yeah, very disappointing. And the clean-up begins for all of those businesses.

CHRIS SMITH: So, I guess this puts more pressure, if you like, on the Government and especially your portfolio of Regional Development, Local Government and Territories. What kind of things are they trying out for as far as support goes?

KRISTY MCBAIN: I think first and foremost, a lot of the businesses were speaking to their insurance assessors. And we know that assessors are in high demand at the moment right across the country, especially in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania on the back of all the floods. So, we need to make sure that we’re working with the insurance industry to get assessors out to people as soon as possible so they can begin that process of clean-up.

But it is about being there for the long haul. And for some regions it is the sixth or seventh flood they’ve had in a number of months.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, yeah.

KRISTY MCBAIN: So, I think the tough part is making sure that we’re there understanding the challenges people have now but into the future and being there to support that.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, I guess you’ve got to spare a thought – and a prayer, if you like – for the people out at western New South Wales, too, because it’s been pretty relentless there since February or thereabouts.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve rung a number of mayors across impacted states over the last couple of weeks and, I’ve heard from people who have told us – and we hear this a lot – “We’re not as bad as, the next shire over.” Or, “We’re lucky enough that we’ve had support in our community to get some clean-up started.” But there are a lot of council areas impacted. And the problem is going to be around getting those roads contractors out to those areas. But, I’m talking to one mayor who said they’ve had now six floods in 11 months and really hard for them to deal with as a community but also as an organisation trying to get on top of that asset maintenance backlog.

CHRIS SMITH: Yeah, it’s going to take some work. And I guess quite a bit of time, too. Okay, I think you’re back in the big house next week up on the hill, aren’t you? What’s your week looking like?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, absolutely back in Parliament House next week. We’ve got three sitting weeks until the end of the year and the legislative agenda is obviously quite full. So, I can imagine those three weeks are going to be very busy as well as Senate Estimates as well. So, there’ll be very tired people towards the end of November I’d say.

CHRIS SMITH: Come on. Come on. Come on. Cry me a river, Kristy.

KRISTY MCBAIN: I think people on your program know well and truly that even when Parliament is not sitting, I’m usually travelling somewhere in the electorate or further afield, so.

CHRIS SMITH: I know. You can’t deny me the opportunity to take the mickey. Come on.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Absolutely.

CHRIS SMITH: Good on you, Kristy. Go well.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Thank you very much. I’ll catch you soon.

CHRIS SMITH: Okay. Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, back with Stephen, presumably next week.