Interview on Sky News Regional, Breakfast with Jaynie Seal

JAYNIE SEAL: Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek has blocked Clive Palmer's Central Queensland coal mine project. Joining us live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development. Thank you so much for joining us, Minister. So how much of an impact will this have, do you think, on local jobs and the economy?

KRISTY MCBAIN: I think if the project was to proceed, there'd be a real impact on jobs and the economy. The Great Barrier Reef brings in about $6 billion annually to the local economy. There's over 6,000 tourism and hospitality jobs that rely on us having a pristine barrier reef that is known worldwide. And I think that this project is a real concern for a lot of people across Queensland, as they would be doing away with one of their biggest assets if this coal mine proceeded.

SEAL: So are there any other projects underway around the area to support workers who have been working there who need a job, or will they need to move to other regions to find another job?

MCBAIN: I think a lot of people that are working in some of our heavy industries are used to that fly in, fly out work, or following the work where it goes. But I'm sure that with our Powering the Regions plan, there are going to be many opportunities, especially in regional Queensland, to develop some of the newest technologies that we are seeing right across the world, right here in Australia. So I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure that places like regional Queensland are at the forefront of some of those new industries that we'll be backing and supporting.

SEAL: Minister, we're hearing this morning that Andrew Constance could put his name forward for the Senate vacancy left by Jim Molan. Do you think that would make competition tighter in your own lower House seat and in Gilmore?

MCBAIN: Well, it's a matter for the Liberal Party who they put forward for the New South Wales Senate vacancy. And this morning we've had senior Liberal women coming out saying it absolutely should go to a female to deal with the so called Liberal Party's women problem. But look, it's a complete matter for the Liberal Party. I'm very confident that my constituents in Eden-Monaro and the constituents that my colleague Fiona Phillips has in Gilmore are well and truly satisfied by the work that we do. We are keen to progress with the positive plans of an Albanese Labor Government.

SEAL: And turning to other news that we are talking about today, Minister, the first Parliamentary Inquiry into the bank closures across regional Australia in 19 years is set to begin this year. And since 1975, two thirds of the branches belonging to the big four banks have closed across regional Australia. Only 965 remaining. Is it certainly time that we had this inquiry?

MCBAIN: I welcome the inquiry and it's on the back of the Regional Banking Taskforce that we're part of. In the last five years to June 2022, we've seen over 1,600 banking closures across the country, around 600 of those in regional and rural Australia. We already know that it's really hard to get services in some of our towns. We know that our older demographic really likes to have that shop front in place. We also know that there's a digital divide across some of our regions. So I welcome the inquiry, and what I would say to those big four banks is that a huge amount of our gross domestic product and our economy revolves around our regions having good services. So there is obviously a gap in the market. And for a lot of the communities where I live, community-owned banking or customer-owned banking is the way that some of those communities are going.

SEAL: And finally Minister, New South Wales Labor Leader Chris Minns is backing one of his party's high-profile candidates, Terry Campese, after images emerged of him attending a sex party. And Minns maintains the gathering is a private matter and not relevant to his run for a crucial seat. Do you agree?

MCBAIN: Look, absolutely. I think if you're attending a dress up party in a private residence, then it really is a private matter and I think we've all attended a dress up party at some point. We know from news reports over the last few months, the Premier has even attended a dress up party. I think Terry Campese has been a wonderful advocate in the community. He's been a Raiders captain, he's represented Australia and Italy in rugby league, and I look forward to seeing what he can do next.

SEAL: Minister Kristy McBain, thank you very much for your time.