Interview- Sky News Regional Breakfast with Jaynie Seal
JAYNIE SEAL, PRESENTER: To one of our top stories, up to 600,000 households will experience an annual increase to their power bills by at least 20 per cent from July 1. That is on top of an 18 per cent increase to prices last year, as well as rising interest rates and inflation. Kristy McBain, Regional Development Minister and Member for Eden-Monaro joins us live now. Thank you so much for your time, Minister. So, more pressure on so many people and we just heard on Sky News a short time ago, Shadow Energy Minister, Ted O'Brien accused Labor of a broken promise. Do you agree?
KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: What Ted O'Brien should be saying, or more accurately, should be doing, is apologising to the Australian people. He was part of a government that for ten years failed to cement an energy policy. They had 22 energy policies and didn't land on a single one. They presided over four gigawatts of energy leaving the system and only one gigawatt coming on. We know that households are doing it incredibly tough at the moment, which is why we recalled Parliament last year to make sure that we put a cap on gas prices to assist business, industry and households with the rising costs of energy. The former government, before the last election, hid the energy price increase that was happening by regulation. Ted O'Brien and the former government need to apologise to the Australian people for hiding energy price increases, for not doing their job on energy and most significantly, voting against our energy price relief when we brought back Parliament in December.
SEAL: Minister, there's been a setback on the Snowy Hydro. What's happening here?
MCBAIN: We know that the project is running behind schedule and again, these were issues that have been hidden from the public by the previous government. I am looking forward to catching up with Snowy Hydro and getting an update as the Member of Eden-Monaro, as the project is happening in the heart of the electorate. I want to make sure that I'm working with them and keeping the community informed about what's happening. It's a major employer in the region, but also, it's a major economic project. Businesses in my region are hoping that it's running on time so that they can also reap the benefits of a project like this happening in their own backyard.
SEAL: Let's head to Queensland. We've seen a deluge of rain of around 600 millimeters in the space of a week, 200mm of that falling in the space of 24 hours. Essential roads are blocked in the far north and more rain is leading to flooding moving across to central and southeastern parts of the country. Roads have been a really high topic of discussion, including the regions not only in Queensland but across much of the country.
MCBAIN: We know that there has been a number of significant rainfall and flooding events and tropical cyclones, which have made some of our more remote communities cut off from the rest of the country. Minister Murray Watt has been working extensively with state and territory governments across the top end around disaster relief. All of those councils are eligible for disaster relief funding. That is the 50-50 funding between the commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions available to councils to work on remediation of roads and bridges. It is an incredibly tough time for communities going through disasters. We know it's not a quick fix to remediate a road or a bridge, but we are there with communities, with state and territory governments and with local councils trying to get those repairs done as soon as possible.
SEAL: All right, well, thank you very much. We do have to wrap it up there. I know you've got a big day ahead, including the Safeguard Mechanism Bill, but we'll have to touch base with you with more on that shortly. Kristy McBain, Regional Development Minister. Thank you so much for your time.