Transcript - Minister McBain TV interview - Sky News, Breakfast with Jaynie Seal

JAYNIE SEAL, HOST: Regional Australia is set to benefit from millions of dollars’ worth of federal funding off the back of this week’s Budget. Joining me live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development and Member for Eden–Monaro. Good morning to you, Minister. How are you?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Good morning. Very well, thanks.

JAYNIE SEAL: That’s great to hear. So, plenty to digest from the Budget. Let’s start with the plans to build one million new homes across the country over five years from 2024. I know you and I have spoken about the housing crisis a couple of times, but is this a good enough start, do you think?

KRISTY MCBAIN: It is the largest housing accord ever struck in Commonwealth history and what we’re doing here is actually taking a lead in the housing sector. What we’ve said is that we want to work with state and territory governments. We want to work with affordable housing providers, and we want to work with super funds, investors and industry to make sure that we are all working together to tackle the housing crisis. Regardless of where you live across this country, at the moment, we’re all feeling the pinch of housing availability and in many cases housing affordability. So, this marks the Government’s intention not only to create the Future Fund for Housing, but also to say we are prepared and ready to work with those in state and territory governments and the affordable housing sector to get this started. And we’ve got a significant goal and a target, a million houses, and we think we can get there.

JAYNIE SEAL: And communities in regional Victoria, for example, and across other areas of the country, they continue to suffer really bad reception, a lot of mobile black spots. We’ve got connectivity telecommunication issues right around the country, another important step. What came out of the Budget and what are you hopeful for there?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Look, I’m really proud to be part of a government that is prioritising connectivity across the regions. We’ve got a $2.4 billion investment in rolling out additional NBN across this country, more than half of those 1.4 million places in regional Australia. We have got a plan to start dealing with some of the black spots across the country. Over $600 million invested to make sure that we’re starting to deal with those black spot issues. What we saw in the bushfire Royal Commission and in the New South Wales bushfire inquiry was those key recommendations around making sure we’ve got connectivity on our main transport corridors and, most importantly, making sure that our telecommunications system has some resilience in it. So, I’m really proud that we are giving credence to the lived experience of so many regional communities across the country and starting to roll out those mobile black spot towers, especially on our main transport corridors.

The other initiative that I think is so important across the region is our investment in on-farm connectivity. We know agri-tech is growing. We know that we have machinery that now wants to talk to each other, use GPS and satellite location, to actually do their work, and we are investing money to make sure that farmers remain connected that businesses can start to grow in our regions because it is the biggest issue that people talk to us across the regions is both mobile and internet connectivity and there’s a plan for that in this Budget.

JAYNIE SEAL: It certainly sounds promising. And what about healthcare and mental health? We know, of course, so many people right at this very moment are either evacuated, have their homes flooded, not only that but we’ve seen disaster after disaster including the bushfires as you mentioned, but, you know, just devastating conditions on top of the huge pandemic that we’re still enduring. Mental health and, you know, telehealth, health in general, what came out of the Budget in regards to helping that area?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, so incredibly important for so many communities, especially those that have been through natural disaster, and we know that for so many communities that’s a cumulative impact on people, that compounding effect from multiple disasters that they’re facing; and in some communities we’ve seen them have four, five, six floods over the last 12 to 24 months. We are investing heavily. We’ve got money in the Budget for additional headspaces in New South Wales and Victoria. We have additional funding in the Budget to restore telehealth rebates for psychiatry services, which is so much needed in our regional communities because getting to see those specialists is usually a big drive to one of our cities if you can get an appointment, so those rebates for telehealth are incredibly important.

We’ve got, most importantly, an investment to make sure that we can boost the incentives to get doctors out into our rural locations, which is incredibly important. So many people across this country have to wait long periods of time to see a GP and this actually provides an incentive to make sure we can get some more GPs out into our rural areas.

JAYNIE SEAL: Minister Kristy McBain, thank you so much for your time. We’ll talk to you again soon.