Interview with David Eisenhauer
DAVID EISENHAUER, HOST: … it all starts, Kristy, when they get off and they head along to their first day of primary school. Joy would remember some big changes in their schooling system but you were in at Tumut last Thursday, Kristy, and we were, of course, talking with McAuley Catholic Central School. What a big day that was.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Yeah, it was fantastic to be there and see the refurbishment of their classrooms and some work that they’ve done in and around the school. Really proud to be there to mark the official opening of that $1.6 million put towards the project by the Australian Government. So it was a real honour for me to be there not only as the local member but the Minister for Regional Development, because we know what an important role our schools play especially in the regions. It really becomes a hub for the community in many respects. And it was such a beautiful school and, as I said to the kids there, you may not think it now, but there would be kids around this country who would be very happy if they had the amount of space and the outlook that you guys enjoy day in, day out at McAuley Central School.
DAVID EISENHAUER: A lot of changes. Imagine the stories Joy would be able to tell of the original days when the schools were just one-room classrooms and, yeah, lots and lots of kids just turning up – I mean, Joy would remember the days we were riding to schools on horses and I love talking to a lady who lives not too far from Joy in that beautiful lodge there, of course, Phyllis Dowling, our regular guest on a Wednesday each month who talks about stories. She grew up at Blue Waterholes up at the Snowy Mountains there when it was all farming land, and amazing stories. The history of our region is terrific, isn’t it?
KRISTY MCBAIN: It is fantastic and I guess the fact that McAuley Central School will be expanding next year and for the first time be offering year 11 classes and then year 12 classes the year after is a real testament to the role the school plays but also the growth in the region that we now have that demand locally for those year 11 and 12 places at McAuley.
DAVID EISENHAUER: And, of course, last Saturday, Kristy, was a very significant day in the history of the region with Snowy Hydro and their 50th birthday celebrations at the mighty T3 power station. Another big day in the region.
KRISTY MCBAIN: It was fantastic. It was a real shame I couldn’t get there. I was in Jindabyne on the weekend marking the start of the Snowy Trout Challenge but also there with my own family on the yearly getaway with the extended family for the McBain trout fishing competition trophy.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Nice.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, taken out this year by my youngest, Jack; he’s seven.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Oh, really?
KRISTY MCBAIN: Yes. He was very happy with himself.
DAVID EISENHAUER: He would have been.
KRISTY MCBAIN: The tradition has been going since my husband was about 10 years old, so really interesting to go now and have that next generation there and to see the excitement that they get from that yearly trip is fantastic.
DAVID EISENHAUER: And we must say a big thanks to those wonderful acclimatisation societies that exist across the electorate that keeps those rivers and dams and streams topped up with catchable fish – well, they’re not really because they all escape. Anybody I talk to – it doesn’t happen very often.
KRISTY MCBAIN: I was going to say we didn’t get a lot on the weekend, but it was fun nonetheless. But, obviously, you know, the level of Lake Jindabyne is causing concern for the community. The amount of rain we’ve had and there’s still a lot of snow on the peaks, it’s not going to go down any time soon.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Now, talking – we’ve mentioned, for example, we talked to Joy Jacobs and birthdays and celebrations, 50, 100, our agedcare workers getting a 15 per cent wage rise. That’s a fair bit of work, Kristy, that went into that. I know you announced that about a week or so ago, but that’s a real positive story to chat about this morning.
KRISTY MCBAIN: It really is, and I think testament to what we said during the election campaign was that we wanted to get wages moving. We saw – the first thing that we did when we came into government was write a letter to the Fair Work Commission to say, you know, those people on a minimum wage need a pay rise to keep up with the cost of living and we saw a 5.2 per cent wage rise given. And that Fair Work case for agedcare workers has been in front of the commission now for quite some time. The previous government refused to hold a position and we also wrote saying, you know, agedcare workers need and deserve a pay rise and that 15 per cent pay rise is well and truly deserved. For anyone that has a loved one in aged care or who is working in the sector, they know the incredible amount of effort that it takes. It can be emotionally and physically draining, but the work they do is second to none, and I’m really pleased that so many of our agedcare workers have received that increase.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Huge job. We have an ageing population. There’s all sorts of issues. You and I could chat for a long time about that Kristy, but that’s a positive story and recognising the huge work done by our wonderful staff. I mean, there’s a stack of volunteering that goes into these agedcare facilities as well. You see people in gardens and out and about helping out. Some of the residents themselves become volunteers in their own organisations there. We’ve got a wonderful system and it’s nice to see that recognised with that 15 per cent.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, it really is and, hopefully, it’s the start of that real aim to get real wages moving. The agedcare sector is one we know has been under significant pressure with staff shortages, especially with all of the work that has – well, the extra work that’s been required during the COVID period. So, you know, we need to make sure that we’re there to support the industries that support us, and those caring industries, you know, our child care and early childhood education sector our agedcare sector and our healthcare sector really are absolute heroes, and we need to be there to support them.
DAVID EISENHAUER: One of the things that’s been making news and, of course, it’s been making news for weeks. We’re going to talk to Steph Cooke, State Member for Cootamundra, pretty soon but we’ve got a Commonwealth, joint State and Commonwealth funding for farmers and we’re talking, of course, the floods in our regions and primary producers are able to apply for recovery grants of $25,000. This is a joint funding arrangement. Kristy, there’s some pretty – a fair bit of damage across a lot of parts of our district, inside the electorate but outside as well. It’s just remarkable. And it’s nice to see this is a positive side – recovery grants.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, it really is. Those recovery grants, $25,000 for primary producers and small business owners, are to deal with some of those impacts that are being felt because of floods. And I was in Adelong last week as well talking to some residents and farmers and business owners there about the impact of flooding on Adelong, so if you are eligible, please apply for those funds. We know that there is more that needs to be done, but it’s a fantastic start.
DAVID EISENHAUER: You were in the district a week ago. We talked about McAuley school. You also mentioned visiting Adelong. You also visited Talbingo. What are some of the main highlights, Kristy, from the visit? What’s the main theme there, are people coming up to chat with you on these pop-up office sessions? What do you have coming up? I think it’s Bungendore tomorrow.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, I’m out at Bungendore tomorrow after a Remembrance Day service. Looking forward to that. It is one of the best parts of my job getting out and about talking to people but whilst I was in Talbingo, a couple of consistent issues obviously around telecommunications, Talbingo has obviously had a situation where their connectivity sort of drops in and out and with power outages creates significant issues. So, we were talking about the interactions they’ve had with Telstra and also how we can make that election commitment of $500,000 in Talbingo to deal with those telecommunications issues can make a real difference. So, talking about some of the technology that is available and, hopefully, will be available going forward, but also the state of roads and the Snowy Mountains Highway particularly between Tumut and Talbingo is probably one of the worst I’ve seen in my travels. So, it’s obviously distressing for a number of community members who have to do that trip quite frequently for shopping and medical appointments and sporting ventures. And I think that is really starting to take its toll on people but our cars, more importantly.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Of course, it’s a huge amount of funding required. I mean, there’s roadworks happening further up from Talbingo to Yarrangobilly Caves at the moment. Transport sent those details through for us. So, there’s repairs underway. But we get these repairs underway but then the weather has been playing a real – it’s not been playing fair at all as far as our road repair works are concerned.
KRISTY MCBAIN: No, absolutely not. And I’ve just been reading this morning both Local Government New South Wales and Country Mayors Association are saying across our regions in particular we’ve got real concerns about roads, you know – you know what it’s like; the amount of weather that we’ve had hasn’t really allowed any of those temporary fixes to take place and then the rain has been relentless so every time you do try to do something, it gets washed away pretty quick. So, we need to make sure that we’re supporting local councils with their roads task and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve added $250 million to the budget for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to assist local councils with those road issues
DAVID EISENHAUER: Which will be ongoing without a doubt. Kristy, we’re just about past our time. I must say, how’s Bluey and B1 and B2? I believe you met with them yesterday.
KRISTY MCBAIN: I sure did and I mean the ABC does a bit of a showcase in Parliament usually once a year, but it hasn’t been held for a couple of years, but, yeah, last night got to meet Bluey and Bingo, B1 and B2. All of the great characters from Play School were there. I got to hold Jemima. So, reliving my childhood. I did get a message from my sister‑in‑law saying I’ve cemented my place as the coolest auntie after meeting Bluey and Bingo so –
DAVID EISENHAUER: I can imagine that. The ABC as kids we grew up with Play School and fantastic when you look back at the amount of entertainment they provided long before we saw the technology of today with our connectivity and the issues that that comes with, we had the telly and we had ABC and we had, of course, and we continue to have these wonderful characters but some great photos I did see pop up on the social feed in the office with, well, particularly with Bluey and Bingo.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Very exciting. I can tick it off the bucket list. Definitely a highlight of the journey.
DAVID EISENHAUER: And it looked like it too with the amount of people who liked the post there Kristy. Very popular.
KRISTY McBAIN: I think you can see from my face the genuine excitement in that photo.
DAVID EISENHAUER: Indeed, indeed. Kristy anything you’d like to add on our catch‑up? We’ve covered most of the subjects and topics that you were sort of in this region the last week or so, but anything that you’d like to mention before we wrap up?
KRISTY MCBAIN: Not really. As always I want to give a plug to our local businesses. I mean, it’s so important and we’ve talked about it now for a couple of years on the back of bushfires how important it was to support our local businesses but I think now even more so. We know a number of businesses, a number of farms, are doing it really tough and we can give them a bit of support and, you know, make sure that you can get out and help people when you can as well. Sometimes it’s just a simple conversation in a cafe that will make all the difference for someone who’s going through what’s probably been a bit of a compounding impact of bushfires and now floods.
DAVID EISENHAUER: And a big one and that’s why your catchups in town are so important as, obviously, Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, a big portfolio Kristy, but importantly, Member for Eden–Monaro. There’s lots of things to chat again next time. Kristy, thank you for joining us today.
KRISTY MCBAIN: My pleasure. Talk to you again soon.