Interview with Sky News, Newsday with Kieran Gilbert

KIERAN GILBERT: Welcome back to the program. Joining me live in the studio is the Minister for Regional Development, Kristy McBain. Thanks for joining us, Minister. What's the reaction to the wages review decision?

KRISTY MCBAIN: It’s a good outcome. 3.75 per cent, on top of what will be big tax cuts come next month, as well as well as a range of our other measures. Cheaper childcare, cheaper medicines, that $300 electricity rebate. This is what happens when you've got a government that's prepared to go to bat for workers with the Fair Work Commission.

GILBERT: The Fair Work Commission also saying that productivity isn't what it should be. Is that something where the government needs to lift its game?

MCBAIN: We'll be working with the business sector around a whole range of things, but our Future Made in Australia was really about making sure that we could work with businesses and with industry to look at how we can innovate, how we can grow our potential, how we can get further investment. Those things will continue to happen.

GILBERT: The Commissioner, also aware that we live in a very inflationary environment right now. He doesn't want to, didn't want to stoke that. Is that a welcome decision in that sense?

MCBAIN: There were probably a number of factors. They've taken into account the fact that the government has been focused on cost of living in this last budget, but also noting that wages have to continue to grow. We've had a decade where wage stagnation was part of the government ideology. We needed to make sure that wages were moving and we've got real wages moving in for the first time in a long time.

GILBERT: On the detainee issue, your colleague Andrew Giles has had a busy weekend. He's been cancelling or re-cancelling more visas, moving quickly. Now it's over 20, I think, at last, last look. Is this something that the government has now basically had to go back to what the situation was prior to direction 99, that the whole process is basically going back to what the coalition had in place?

MCBAIN: Not at all. Andrew Giles had cancelled all of these visas prior to the AAT intervention. That Ministerial Direction 99 was no different to other Ministerial directions that had been made by the former government, where it asked the AAT to take into account community ties. What we're now doing is making it abundantly clear that this should not trump community safety in any way. We’ve cancelled a number of visas, more visa cancellations under this government and Labor Ministers, than under the previous Coalition Government in their last two years in office. We’re having to make some hard decisions, because the migration system was left in a complete mess. We saw skilled visa backlogs, passport backlogs, because there'd been an ideology of slashing public service workers. We’ve got to get those workers back on the job, deal with the migration system that was in a mess. That's not just us saying it, that's three independent reviews and Andrew Giles is doing that.

GILBERT: Back to community safety, you know, the number one priority. Is this an issue that gets raised with you and your electorate?

MCBAIN: It hasn't been raised with me as the number one issue impacting residents across Eden-Monaro. Across Eden-Monaro, we've talked about it before. Cost of living is a huge issue. Housing is a huge issue. We're already down a number of homes because of a number of natural disasters that we've had. The other thing that we talk about all the time is human resources. We need people coming in, to take up the jobs in our communities that have been left in critical skill shortage.

GILBERT: Has the detainee debacle done the government damage, do you think?

MCBAIN: It’s important that we recognise that there is community concern over this and there rightly should be. This isn't a new situation that has erupted under a Labor Government. Under the former government when Peter Dutton was the Minister, sex offenders were released into our community without any monitoring, no ankle braces, no monitoring by the ABF. That's a serious issue that has been happening within our communities for a long period of time.

GILBERT: And I know, finally, not an area which is directly affecting you, but the Liberal party. Some talk about Josh Frydenberg potentially making another run for Kooyong. What's your, what do you make of that?

MCBAIN: Some really interesting storylines there. I don't pretend to understand the inner workings of the Liberal party and I'm sure there's a bunch of Liberals who don't understand the inner workings of the Liberal party either. There are only nine women in the entire House of Representatives for the Liberal party. They've seriously got to address why they're not pre-selecting women. When you do pre-select one, as in Amelia Harmer in the seat of Kooyong, they're now talking about replacing her with Josh Frydenberg. The only person probably worried about Josh Frydenberg making a comeback would be Peter Dutton, because that would have serious implications for his leadership.

GILBERT: Yep, that's probably would if he was successful. Kristy McBain thanks for your time. Appreciate it.