Transcript - Minister McBain interview on WIN News

JOURNALIST: What are some of the things that you really like to see and where do you think more [indistinct]?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: I think the Australian people realise that this Budget was one about delivering on our priorities and the policies we took to the last election. So, we’ve committed to all those election commitments we took. Particular projects that I’m proud of include the respite centre for Queanbeyan, $1.1 million for the operational costing for year one to actually get it kick‑started, a facility that has long been asked for not only in my region but in a lot of regional Australia. So, if it works in Queanbeyan, let’s hope that it can be rolled out to other areas.

Five million dollars for a Queanbeyan veterans wellbeing hub. We know our region has some of the highest numbers of veterans, but also currently servicing defence personnel, so it’s really good to see that in the Budget.

There are a range of other measures which I’m really proud of that we’ve been able to deliver as an Albanese Labor Government. But I’m really proud that some of the policies that we took to the election are going to be able to be utilised across Eden‑Monaro – strengthening Medicare because we know that we have GP shortages across the country. Putting money into training more GPs is vitally important for the regions. It’s so good to see some of those big transport and infrastructure projects come off, and I’m really looking forward to working with communities especially around the mitigation and resilience funds, because we know after our experience of the Black Summer bushfires, communities are asking us to do more to make their towns more resilient for future disasters.

JOURNALIST: On the regions, not just your own, but across the country, there’s been fires, and floods, and everything like that. I suppose, what’s in it for them and what – even though there’s no sort of real cost‑of‑living relief, I suppose, what’s something that they can take away from it and feel okay or be reassured?

KRISTY MCBAIN: We saw the former government have a $4.8 billion disaster recovery fund, a failed fund that didn’t deliver a single bit of mitigation project across the country. We’ve repurposed that fund. We’ve talked to local communities. We are looking at those locally led solutions and that’s why we’ve committed $200 million a year in that mitigation and resilience fund. We know that local communities are asking for it, we know that insurance companies are asking for it, and we know that local councils are asking for it. We’ve got to work with our partners in state and territory governments and, in particular, local governments. They are the ones that are there day in day out in disaster response. They’re the ones that have got to be there for the long haul for recovery, and we need to make sure that those towns are prioritised, that we deal with some of those resilience measures, but we also help them with the clean‑up, that we get there for road repair, that we stand by them side by side along with state and territory governments to make sure that we look after those communities.

JOURNALIST: We know that housing is obviously a big issue across the country, but particularly so in regional Australia, so I suppose the money or the houses that have been allocated in that 10‑year plan would also be the housing in the future fund. Do you think it’s enough to prop up some of the struggles that we’ve seen in the regions and [indistinct]?

KRISTY MCBAIN: I am incredibly proud to be part of a Government that sees a role for itself as the Federal Government in housing. For far too long we’ve seen federal governments pass off responsibility to the market, to state and territory governments. We have struck the largest national housing accord ever in this country’s history. We will look to build on our future housing fund with the announcements last night of a million homes, affordable and social homes. It’s going to be incredibly important to make sure that workers in our regions can live in our regions. We know so many places have jobs available, but there are no houses available. We know so many of our frontline workers can no longer afford to live in the towns that they are providing services in. So, this housing measure actually puts a Federal Government with industry, with state and territory governments in the arena and says we are committed to it because we know Australians are struggling with the cost of living especially [indistinct].

JOURNALIST: And just on the sort of having jobs and not having people to get out there. The skilled migrants and upping that as I suppose is that something that you’re hopeful that a lot of people that we are able to bring into the country will go to those regions where there’s jobs and then when we increase housing stock out that will really develop those places?

KRISTY MCBAIN: We know when we came into the Government there was a million visas that hadn’t been processed, so it’s been a big job for us to make sure we’re deploying more people to deal with the backlog in visa applications. We’ve been told in the Jobs and Skills Summit that businesses and industry want us to lift that cap, which we’ve done, to 195,000 per year. But we also know that we’ve got to start addressing some of the other issues when we do get our workers here, making sure we’ve got training available to them. So, our commitment in vocational training and TAFE, those additional fee‑free TAFE places of 180,000 starting next year will start to deliver on some of the skill shortages we’ve got across the country. Those additional 20,000 university places, prioritising rural and regional kids to get to university, and some of the places where those universities that are going to take up those places are in our regions which is so important. You know, training local people to take up local jobs is so important in our economy.

I’m really proud that our Government hasn’t just delivered on one priority. It’s taken what we’ve heard during the election period, from the Jobs and Skills Summit, and delivered it in policy that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Excellent. Anything else you want to add or mention?

KRISTY MCBAIN: I don’t think so.

JOURNALIST: Got all of it. Thank you very much.