Transcript - radio interview - ABC Gippsland, Breakfast with Mim Hook

MIM HOOK, HOST: We have Kristy McBain, Federal Minister for Regional Development and Local Government speaking with us this morning. If you’ve got any questions or thoughts or ideas around what needs to be done here in Gippsland in terms of development, do jump on the text line 0467 842 722.

Kristy is heading to Orbost today, to Kalimna West, to Metung, to Bairnsdale and tomorrow to Leongatha and through South Gippsland. She’s also visiting Morwell, Traralgon, Tambo Valley, Tambo Crossing, Ensay, Sarsfield. So much is being fitted in for this trip.

Good morning, Kristy.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Good morning Mim, how are you?

MIM HOOK: Well thanks. Now you’re originally from Traralgon.

KRISTY MCBAIN: That’s right, I was born in Traralgon and lived to there until just before my 12th birthday. I still have family in the area, so looking forward to coming back and doing a bit of a trip through Gippsland.

MIM HOOK: Why are you doing a trip through Gippsland?

KRISTY MCBAIN: My role as Regional Development and Local Government Minister means that I’m out talking to local communities where they live about the things that matter most to them. From a regional development sense we’re talking to a number of organisations, including chambers of commerce, One Gippsland, the Regional Development Australia Network, and then meeting with a number of local councils through Gippsland, and talking about some of their concerns and issues going forward.

MIM HOOK: Can we expect any announcements around funding here in Gippsland?

KRISTY MCBAIN: We will be talking to councils, going to a couple of different communities and looking at some their priorities.

MIM HOOK: Now, you’re heading to Orbost and you’re meeting with stakeholders in the forestry industry and the chamber of commerce there in Orbost. Do you have a personal stance on the logging industry and logging our native Gippsland forests? At the moment there’s no logging happening. VicForests have an appeal in the court system. What’s your stance on this?

KRISTY MCBAIN: My electorate of Eden‑Monaro borders the Gippsland electorate, and we also have both a hardwood and a soft wood forestry industry, so I am very well aware of the importance of our industries being sustainable. Number one.

Number two is it’s a product that stores carbon. It is used in building products, for flooring, for furniture, and if we’re not doing it sustainably in our country, we have to wonder where our wood is going to come from.

There can be some common-sense solutions going forward, but I know it’s a big issue for Orbost and for greater Gippsland. That’s why I’m coming along to have a chat today.

MIM HOOK: I imagine there’s some similarities between Eden‑Monaro and East Gippsland. You’re neighbours. You’re the Federal Labor seat holder there for Eden‑Monaro. What is the difference though that East Gippsland, or Gippsland is a safe National seat, and then just over the border it’s Labor. What is the difference there?

KRISTY MCBAIN: A lot of our regional communities most of the time aren’t voting on party politics lines. People talk to me and tell me that they’re voting for a person not a party, and that’s probably the case in Gippsland as well. You’ve had a local Member there for a number of years now and I’m sure he attracts people from the more progressive side of politics, and over the border I attract people from the more conservative side of politics.

Our regional communities are people who want to know their local Member and know that they understand them. Therefore, a lot of times voting is actually not on party lines, it’s on who the representative is.

MIM HOOK: Here in the Gippsland area we are very safe National seats generally, and sometimes we hear comments here at ABC Gippsland that Labor’s forgotten about Gippsland. What would you say to that, Kristy?

KRISTY MCBAIN: When people go to those catchphrases and talking points for the day, it just doesn’t mirror reality. I live in a regional area, I’ve done so my whole life and I for one am not coming to visit because I’ve forgotten about the joint. It’s because I’m interested in intimately understanding the industries there. There is some fantastic work that is going on in the area. I want to make sure that that voice is going back to government.

MIM HOOK: We’re speaking with Kristy McBain, Federal Minister for Regional Development, who is travelling through Gippsland for the next few days, is from Traralgon herself and holds the seat of Eden‑Monaro.

Federal Minister McBain, we’ve had some projects here in Gippsland that were promised just before, or around the time of the federal election. I’m wondering where they’re at?

One was for a Barramundi farm at the Australian Paper Mill, and it was linked in with the Energy to Waste project there, is funding for that still going ahead? And the other one is for Patty’s Pies in Bairnsdale, which had been promised funding then the Federal Election happened, but also it has been sold to a Hong Kong company since it was promised funding as well.

KRISTY MCBAIN: As I understand it, these were election commitments made by the local member Darren Chester at the time. Obviously, not being able to form government means those election commitments aren’t proceeding.

We understand that these projects, like a lot of projects across the country, are valuable and we want to see them succeed and make a difference in their communities. There are other funding opportunities that will be available, including the Growing Regions Program, which will be an open, competitive grant program. There’ll be guidelines, eligibility criteria and an application process.

We want to see some fair and transparent funding take place. Those will be open very shortly and obviously we’ve got a budget coming up next month, so plenty of opportunities for those election commitment projects to proceed through other rounds.

MIM HOOK: So, the point of your tour now, Kristy McBain, is to learn about Gippsland and be able to advocate for our region?

KRISTY MCBAIN: My job as Regional Development and Local Government Minister is really about understanding some of the priority projects that are in other parts of the country and making sure that I’m across those and can let other communities know of some opportunities coming up.

MIM HOOK: Thank you very much for speaking with us today. Where are you off to right now?

KRISTY MCBAIN: I’ll be hopping in the car very shortly. First stop is getting the kids off to the bus for school for the day, and then I’ll be hitting the road to Orbost.

MIM HOOK: Cheers, thank you very much. Kristy McBain, Federal Minister for Regional Development, holds the seat of Eden‑Monaro and is travelling through Gippsland for the next few days meeting with different stakeholders around the area.

If you’ve got something that you want your Federal Minister for Regional Development to know, text us in and we will get that to her.