Transcript - Interview with Sky News Regional Breakfast
JAYNIE SEAL: Joining me live is Minister Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development and Territories. Thanks so much for joining us, Minister. We just heard there Penny Wong saying that each person will be granted a visa and they'll endure appropriate security cheques. Do you think they've got enough time to do these security cheques?
KRISTY MCBAIN: Good morning, Jaynie. Good to be with you. We know at this point in time that it's extremely hard to get passage out of Gaza. We’ve currently got 93 Australian citizens out, with still more who are attempting to get out. Those who have applied for those visas will be in similar situations. This is just more politicking by the Coalition. It's really sad to see at a time where this conflict is raging, that they'd stoop to these levels. We had the same issue during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, where we granted visas with appropriate security checks to get people who have family and friends in Australia to a safe location, so that they can protect their family and friends. That is what a good country does during times of conflict. We attempt to keep people as safe as possible and grant visas with the appropriate checks in place, and have people in a safe location. As Minister Wong has said, those visas are short term visas.
SEAL: And what about fears that people might not be able to even escape the Middle East?
MCBAIN: We know that it has been hard to get passage out of Gaza in particular. I's really good to see that there has been an agreement reached for the return of hostages, the ability to get more aid and supplies into Gaza, and hopefully the safe passage of more innocent civilians out of that area. It's really important that countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, are able to assist with that. America has obviously brokered part of this deal to make sure that the exchange of those hostages and Palestinian prisoners can take place. It's really important that that progresses and it's important that those dialogues continue.
SEAL: And are you satisfied about the amount of Israeli citizens being granted visas? 1800?
MCBAIN: Absolutely. Obviously, there are a number of people who are looking at their options to flee the area, with nearly 1,800 visas being given to Israelis as well. Australia has a role to play here, and when other conflicts have happened around the world, Australia has granted humanitarian visas to those citizens as well. It's important we continue to play that role.
SEAL: All right, let's talk about some good news, Minister, because a lot of farmers are talking to us. They're saying this rain and storm event that is occurring across much of eastern Australia is, quote, a game changer. It's brilliant. They're just rejoicing in it. It's really brought their spirits up and really provided such an impactful future for them. What are you hearing?
MCBAIN: Absolutely, Jaynie. I know you had a farmer earlier on the program, and it's incredibly true. You can't make money out of dust. It's so important that we have got this rain now and hopefully it continues for a little longer. I know in my part of the world, it will definitely be welcomed. It's so important, though, that we plan as a Government for what it looks like when the rain finishes. We know that we're in El Nino at this point in time, which is why the Albanese Labor Government has committed $100 million to the Drought Relief Fund every year, regardless of what's happening with the weather, because we need to be better planned and more resilient across our country. Earlier this year, Minister Watt and the Treasurer held a Drought Summit in Queensland to prepare. That was with other government agencies, with farmers, with community groups, with banks, to talk about when we are in a drought, what are the things that we need to see in communities. Those drought resilience plans are already rolling out across five regions in Queensland initially. There's a $300,000 grant to each of those regions to help implement some of the actions they want to see in their communities. We need to make sure that we are best planned as possible for coming droughts and the Albanese Labor Government takes that really seriously, working in collaboration across a whole range of sectors to ensure our communities as best prepared as possible.
SEAL: All right. And finally, Minister, the new RBA Governor has warned us of further interest rate rises on the cards despite inflation reaching its peak. Can you make it stop? When is it over?
MCBAIN: Jaynie, it's news a lot of Australian families will be bracing for, and bracing for the words that the RBA Governor has been saying. There are families out there doing it really tough at the moment. Inflation is high right across the world at this point in time. The Albanese Labor Government has obviously been working to take the pressure off those hip pocket costs without adding to inflation. We are seeing childcare costs come down, medicines come down. It's cheaper to see your doctor. Those energy price rebates are coming through at this point in time. We've got fee-free TAFE. It's really important that we continue to work across a whole range of sectors to take pressure off families every day. The rent assistance that has gone up, the largest increase in over 15 years, is really important. We are seeing real wages move again, which is incredibly important. Big wage increases to the aged care sector and to people on minimum wage. It's important that the Government continues to work to take pressure off Australian families through those hip pocket costs, whilst not adding to inflation. Those are really targeted measures to assist people. There's always going to be more to do here and it's really important that we continue to stick together and keep taking pressure off families where we can.
SEAL: Certainly needed, isn't it. Tough times. But again, this rain. Hopefully it's bringing smiles to many faces. Great to see you, Minister. We'll talk to you again same time next week.
MCBAIN: Thanks, Jaynie.