Sky News Regional, Breakfast with Jaynie Seal

JAYNIE SEAL: The Australian Council of Local Government forum will be held in Canberra this June and it's part of the Federal Government's commitment to bring local government back to the table. Joining me live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development and Federal Member for Eden-Monaro. Thank you, Minister for joining us. How important is this forum?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Good morning, Jaynie. Lovely to be with you this morning. It's incredibly important that we bring local government back to the table and we've done that through our National Cabinet process. The Australian Local Government President was back at National Cabinet on February 3rd this year. We are going to continue that and hold the Australian Council of Local Government, asking the 546 local governments across the country to come to Canberra, meet with us and talk to us about some of their own issues and see whether we can work with them on the place-based solutions that communities are asking for.

SEAL: What do you think some of the main issues will be?

MCBAIN: We know from local councils that I've spoken to since I became the Minister, that’s about 173 so far, that housing continues to be a big issue, especially across regional and rural Australia. The skills gap and shortages across the country are really biting in the local government sector, and for so many local councils across the country, they're feeling the pinch of multiple natural disasters. We want to talk to them, see how we can work in partnership and make sure that their voices are being heard as part of national policy making.

SEAL: Minister, you are a former mayor and regional councillor. What did you experience in your time in those roles?

MCBAIN: From my time in local government, it's really clear that so many councils provide significant services to their communities, especially in regional, rural and remote areas, where councils usually are the provider of early childhood education, the provider of NDIS services, and in many cases, the providers of aged care and housing services. There is a really wide gambit that councils provide in our community, so it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we're working with them in partnership. Now more than ever, it's incumbent to make sure that the three levels of government are working collaboratively.

SEAL: Let's turn to another topic on youth crime. The Queensland Government has overridden its Human Rights Act to introduce a suite of new youth justice measures. Is that concerning to you?

MCBAIN: We've seen this issue in Queensland become really important to the community. The Palaszczuk Government is working in bipartisanship with the Liberal opposition to enact some changes into their laws. It's a $336 million package that they've introduced to deal with youth crime, and we'll see whether that assists with this issue. It's the first step in a suite of measures that need to take place. We're dealing with the pointy end there, but we also need to deal with some of the things that can lead up to someone entering into crime, including the education programs, the rehabilitation programs. The whole problem really needs to be addressed.

SEAL: We heard yesterday that Annastacia Palaszczuk said, quote, “this is beyond politics.” Opposition Leader, David Crisafulli stated that he wants the government to listen and acknowledge what is going on in the community, and we are hearing from our reporters in Queensland as well on just how scared so many locals are in Queensland.

MCBAIN: It’s really important that we're listening to the voices of community and what we’ve seen is the Government of Queensland acting in that manner. Everyone should have the right to feel safe in their own homes and the actions put in place by the Palaszczuk Government show that this is above politics, that they're listening to community and that they're prepared to work in collaboration with the opposition.

SEAL: Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development. Thank you very much.