Interview with Stephen Cenatiempo, Breakfast Show, 2CC Talking Canberra


STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: It’s 23 to 9. Kristy McBain, the Member for Eden–Monaro, is now the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories and says she’ll fast‑track laws allowing the ACT and NT – Northern Territory, that is – to legislate on euthanasia. She joins us now. Kristy, am I still allowed to call you Kristy or do I have to call you Minister now?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Kristy is good for me.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Now, obviously this is part of your portfolio responsibility now as the Minister for Territories, but what is the – well, firstly, what is the rush here, particularly given that the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has said it’s not a priority for the Government?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Look, I think that there has been a lot of people campaigning for Territory rights for many years. Obviously, it’s not the first lot of business that but we definitely want to move on this. Andto that end, I think there’s a bill that’s already been drafted that was attempted to be introduced into previous Parliaments so it’s not like there will be a tonne of work involved to make sure that something can get on the Government notice paper.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: But let’s be fair, this is not about Territory rights because we’re not talking about any other right other than the right to legislate on euthanasia.

KRISTY MCBAIN: That’s right. Why should the Northern Territory or the ACT not be allowed to debate such a bill in their own Assemblies when you have elected members of those Territory governments when every other jurisdiction across Australia has already legislated on the same issue? It’s a simply – 

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Because they’re territories and not states.

KRISTY MCBAIN: It’s simply a matter of equality across the board. Why should the territories not be able to debate such an issue?

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Because they’re territories and not states.

KRISTY MCBAIN: But you can debate every other type of law. You can make your own laws on a whole range of other issues that every other state can, so it seems odd to me that we have a position where the Federal Government is denying Territorians the right to even debate one issue because of a law that was introduced by a Federal Parliamentarian who, because of his own beliefs, basically, has usurped the right for territories to do the same thing.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: But, having said that, the issue is here – if you’re fair dinkum about the rights of Territorians, then the Federal Government could legislate this themselves. This is not about the rights of me as a Canberran or any other Canberran. It is about the rights of 25 muppets in the Assembly to debate issues of life and death when they can’t even get the potholes fixed.

KRISTY MCBAIN: I understand your point of view and you have a very pointed one about the Assembly, but, you know, you elect people to represent you in your Legislative Assembly, just like I elect someone to represent me in the New South Wales State Parliament. If the State Parliament can debate – introduce, debate and pass a law, like they do on many other issues, the territories should be able to introduce, debate and pass laws like they do on many issues. There shouldn’t be a difference between the types of laws that can be debated in the Territory as opposed to the State, and I think it’s important that we allow them to do so.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: But if that’s the case – let’s be honest about this. States predate the Federation, so they have their own set of rights because their parliaments precede the Federal Parliament. The Federal Government has jurisdiction over the territories. Surely this comes down to capacity. I mean, you wouldn’t allow – as a former mayor, you would know that you wouldn’t allow a local government to legislate on euthanasia.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Well, that is because local government doesn’t have control of health systems like the Territory does. Let me put it to you this way. Would you be happy for members and senators of WA to be able to debate and pass a law that affects the ACT on this issue when they have no idea what the members – the residents of the ACT think about it? So, I think it’s a little bit different. The Federal Government doesn’t control State hospitals or Territory hospitals. The Territory does. So, they should be able to debate these laws.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Some would say that senators and members in Western Australia debate laws that control the ACT every day. That’s part of the Federation.

KRISTY MCBAIN: That’s true, but not one that controls Territory health issues. You know, these hospitals that you have are controlled by the ACT just like hospitals in the Northern Territory are controlled by them.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: “Controlled” is a very loose word, I would say, but anyway. My argument has always been: if you’re fair dinkum about this, dissolve the ACT, absorb it back into New South Wales, and allow the National Capital Authority to look after the nationally significant institutions in the ACT. But that’s what it comes down to. I keep saying that. This is about 25 people in the Assembly, not the 430,000 people in the ACT.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Look, by the same token, I mean, Tasmania doesn’t have a huge population either, but we would never consider subsuming Tasmania into Victoria. I mean – 

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: It’s not the size of the population that’s the issue. Tasmania is a state in its own right.

KRISTY MCBAIN: I agree with you. But you have a self‑governing Territory. You have it because there are a lot of Canberrans that want to have their own rights to representation about a range of issues that happen in the ACT. This issue isn’t about how we deal with the ACT or anyone’s view on the Assembly. This issue is simply about whether the ACT should be allowed to make laws in regard to assisted dying like every other jurisdiction across Australia has the right to do so.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Let’s talk about – part of your role is now being the Minister responsible for the National Capital Authority and you said you wanted to work with the ACT Government on its major infrastructure priorities including a new sports stadium. The ACT Government has said they don’t think that that’s a priority and, more importantly, even if it was – and I know there’s a lot of people out there think we need a new stadium – why is it the Federal Government’s business and not the ACT Government’s if indeed they should be operating like a State?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Look, I think that there is a very simple answer to that. At the moment, there’s a stadium in Canberra, which is part of the AIS precinct and there’s some decisions that need to be made about that precinct itself. And also, if there is to be a new stadium in Canberra and it is to move, the National Capital Authority will need to be involved in that for a range of planning issues. So, it does come across my portfolio, but, as I said, I’m up for working with the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority along with the Albanese Government to make sure that any decisions made are well consultated across the board.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: I think you might be waiting a long time for the ACT Government to come to the party on this, Kristy, but I do appreciate your time this morning.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Talk to you soon.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: All the best. Kristy McBain, the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territory.

Media contact:

Minister McBain – Melanie Leach 0492 318 450