Transcript - TV interview - Sky News, Breakfast with Jaynie Seal
JAYNIE SEAL [HOST]: Welcome back. Labor's Housing Fund is in limbo as the Greens join the Coalition in blocking the move. Joining us live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories. Thank you so much for your time, Minister. We know how busy you are, so we really appreciate you joining us here on Sky News Breakfast. But what are your thoughts on this? It got blocked late last night. Any surprises?
KRISTY MCBAIN [MINISTER]: Thanks. It's incredibly disappointing at a time where we've got Greens Party members going out saying we need more houses built in the country. At a time where Peter Dutton is saying that we need more houses built in the country. At a time when regional businesses are crying out for workers to come to their regions. We are blocking the largest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. They can't have it both ways. Both the Greens, the Liberals and the Nationals have blocked the biggest investment in social and affordable housing at a time where they're also acknowledging that we have a housing crisis. It kind of beggars belief that they can sit there bleeding, and yet not be prepared to be part of the solution.
JAYNIE SEAL: Minister, the Greens have said basically that it doesn't go far enough to support renters. What do they mean by this? And what is Labor saying?
KRISTY MCBAIN: The Greens party position is they want more money falling from the sky. We've had to hand down a fiscally responsible Budget so that we don't add to the inflation pressures that the country is already facing. What they're saying is they want perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good start. This is the largest investment in social and affordable housing. I urge the Greens to get on board and actually be part of a solution, instead of standing in the corner and throwing their toys out of the cot. It's also incumbent upon the opposition. The title doesn't mean literally oppose everything. It means you are there to try to work with the Government on solutions. You're meant to be an alternative Government. We're not seeing them put forward any solutions to the housing crisis. They're standing with the Greens in the corner, not prepared to be part of the solution, at a time where we've got businesses who are saying it is hard to attract or retain workers, especially in our regions, when we don't have the housing stock. Here is an idea - a solution that will actually allow us to start building more social and affordable homes across the country. All of those parties aren't prepared to back Australian people and back this idea to get more houses built in the country.
JAYNIE SEAL: What do you make of Senator Pocock's decision? He has said that he's publicly not going to block the bill, but he says that Government should in fact listen to experts, make the fund bigger or at least index it and allow it to spend more when returns are high. That's just quoting David Pocock there.
KRISTY MCBAIN: The Government is happy to deal with pragmatic and common-sense solutions like that, and it's good to see Senator Pocock actually understanding that you've got to start somewhere. Not everything is going to be perfect off the bat, but as I said, this is the largest investment in social and affordable housing. Let's work together to make sure that we can get the most out of the Housing Australia Future Fund. Don't sit there and block it and then not come up with alternatives. Senator Pocock’s comments, I'm sure would be welcomed by the Minister, and I'm sure she's prepared to work with anyone that has got the interests of Australians at heart.
JAYNIE SEAL: Let's turn to other issues with the Budget. A lot of people welcoming the Budget, including the NDIS for example. They're saying that there are missed opportunities, so there's happy people, but then also people that are wanting more. Let's start with the Medicare situation, bulk billing and so forth. What are your thoughts on this?
KRISTY MCBAIN: The tripling of the bulk billing incentive in Tuesday's Budget would be welcome most of all in the regions across Australia. There are so many people out across regional Australia who have trouble getting in to see a doctor or whose doctors have left the areas because they couldn't afford to continue to run that practice. It stems from freezes to Medicare over a number of years, starting under the Abbott-Hockey Budget in 2014. This is a good start. I've heard from local doctors in my own electorate who are welcoming this news and saying that it is making the idea of getting into a GP practice more attractive again. Hopefully, we will see more bulk billing appointments open for people across regional Australia. Right across my own electorate, I think there's only one bulk billing clinic left. This actually hopefully now makes it attractive to bulk bill those people under 16, and those people on concession card again, because it is so vitally important that people access health care when they need it. So many people have been putting off going to see the doctor because they just couldn't afford the out of pocket cost. This announcement in particular is going to be welcomed right across regional Australia.
JAYNIE SEAL: Plenty more to dissect, but unfortunately, we have to wrap it up there. But we'll talk to you again same time next week. Kristy McBain, thank you so much for your time.
KRISTY MCBAIN: Thanks very much.