Interview with Lish Fejer, ABC Radio Canberra, Breakfast


LISH FEJER: Now, yes, the parliamentarians have all been signed in, sworn in, and are busy at work, including Federal Territories Minister, Labor MP for Eden–Monaro, Kristy McBain. In her new portfolio as Territories Minister, she will be working with the ACT Government and the Northern Territory in pushing for the debate around voluntary assisted dying and she joins me this morning. Good morning, Minister.

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Good morning, Lish.

LISH FEJER: How are you going to go about getting this debate on the table?

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Look, I think for far too long we’ve just seen an approach that is, you know, mother knows best. And what we need to do is start working collaboratively with our Territories both in the mainland and in the Pacific and Indian Ocean Territories and actually start listening to what the people of those Territories are telling us. And we know for one that both the ACT and Northern Territory want to be able to have that debate on assisted dying laws.

LISH FEJER: And I know we haven’t got a final debate – a final result yet on our Senate seats here in the ACT. Zed Seselja and David Pocock are still being counted from the AEC’s perspective, but in terms of the timeline for getting this across the line, I know New South Wales, all around us, we have – the legislation has been put in place. The ACT and the Northern Territory still holding out. What is the timeline from whoa to go?

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Look, I’m looking forward to working with those ACT members and senators and Northern Territory members and senators on how they wish to progress this. I believe the best way is probably going to be through a private member’s bill or a private senator’s bill and allowing a conscience vote on those things. But, you know, I have a very good working relationship with people right across the Parliament and I am willing to sit down and listen. And to that end I’ve got a meeting with David Pocock this afternoon, and I’m sure this will be on the table for something that he wishes to discuss early on if he is ultimately the second senator for the ACT.

LISH FEJER: With the new Government, do you think there’s broad support for it?

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Look, I think that there are a multitude of views across the Labor Party like there is across our community, which is why we would allow a conscience vote to take place. There is a range of views which I think need to be put across in Parliament and, ultimately, need to be put across both the Legislative Assemblies of the ACT and the Northern Territory. As you said, most other states now have those appropriate laws in place and I think, in 2022, we should be able to have that open debate for people to contribute to.

LISH FEJER: Kristy McBain is my guest this morning on ABC Radio Canberra, Member for Eden–Monaro, but also Federal Territories Minister, so our Minister for here, the ACT. Lots of discussion around a new sports stadium, and I know that was sort of kicked around a lot during the election campaign. What are your – where are you going to start on getting this across the line as well?

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Look, I’ll work pretty closely with both the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and Minister Chris Steel about a number of their priorities. I have a meeting today with the National Capital Authority about some of their priorities going forward, but there are a range of projects, I think, that we need to discuss and have a look at. And there are obviously some priorities that the ACT and the National Capital Authority will have as well as the Government. So, I think people can be assured that an Albanese Labor Government is one that is open to collaboration and discussion. We don’t want to come in and put our priorities first. We want to make sure we are working together with our Territory counterparts.

LISH FEJER: 19 past 7. I wonder about getting light rail over Lake Burley Griffin. You’ll also be working with the National Capital Authority. Are you going to speed up the process of this as we’re inching ever closer towards the lake and the bridge over troubled waters?

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Yeah, look, it’s obviously a project that I know the ACT Government is keen to get on with. There are, as I said, a range of priorities that both the Territory and the Federal Government will have, and we will work closely with our counterparts to make sure that we are progressing things. But we also have to put in context that where we sit at the moment is a trillion dollars in debt, so we need to be careful about public spending over the next few years and we have to be getting value for money out of any taxpayer funds that are going out. So, as I said, I work closely with our counterparts, but we do have a tricky financial situation that we are in, so we’ve got to acknowledge that and make sure that our taxpayers are well and truly aware of that as well.

LISH FEJER: Okay we’re standing by. Thanks so much for your time this morning.

KIRSTY MCBAIN: Thanks, Lish.

LISH FEJER: Kristy McBain, Federal Territories Minister and Labor MP for Eden–Monaro.

Media contact

Minister McBain – Melanie Leach 0423 759 288