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

JAYNIE SEAL [HOST]: Joining me live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and member for Eden-Monaro. Minister, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Certainly mixed reaction on the Brisbane name change announcement. What are your thoughts?

KRISTY MCBAIN [MINISTER]: Morning, Jaynie. Before I jump into that, I was out at Bowning Public School yesterday and I told the kids there I'd give them a shout out. So, good morning to all the kids at Bowning Public School. Enjoy your school holidays and I look forward to getting back there for your 175th anniversary next year. In regards to the name change for Brisbane, look that’s a matter for the Palaszczuk Government, but do we really need to get our knickers in a knot over it? It's not confirmed, it's speculation. We're focused on the things that matter at the moment, and we know we've got a referendum coming up later this year where every Australian will get a chance to have a say on Indigenous recognition in the constitution, which is the thing we should be concentrating on right now. We've had inflation figures out, which is the other thing that Australians will be asking us to concentrate on, that cost of living pressure that people are under.

SEAL: And on that topic Minister, Jim Charmers just spoke to my colleague Pete Stefanovic on inflation, including wanting to know what extra handouts there are for people during this cost-of-living crisis. What support is their Minister?

MCBAIN: We know that our Budget had to be carefully calibrated, to not add inflationary pressure to the economy. What you've seen is that we have put downward pressure on that inflation by helping people with the cost-of-living. Cheaper childcare measures which come in next month, cheaper medicines, assistance with electricity bills for households and also for small businesses. We're working with councils, for instance, to bring down the cost of electricity for those organisations, so that those costs aren't handed back to ratepayers. We're doing many things in our Budget to make sure that we're dealing with the cost-of-living pressures that Australians are under.

SEAL: You also announced funding for 43 locally-led products to strengthen community engagement and wellbeing to the regions.

MCBAIN: We've been partnering with the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal for a long time now and it's really great to see so many of these local community projects get up. For small communities, the $2,000 that gets handed to a local organisation to put on an event or to upgrade a community facility is always well received. It’s been fantastic working with FRRR on those projects. There's more to do in this space, but as I travel the country, the most important thing that you can see for small communities is that we're backing their local ideas. The best thing that we can do for communities is backing those locally-led ideas and solutions, and that's what we've been doing. We came to government saying that we would be a government that listened to the people and wanted to collaborate with the three levels of government, but also with local communities. That's us delivering on that.

SEAL: All right. And you're also reforming the national approach to disaster response, recovery and resilience.

MCBAIN: It’s been really fantastic that Minister Watt has announced this review into disaster recovery payments. I know, as someone who lives in an area that's had 35 declared natural disasters since 2016, the importance of making sure that we are giving credence to the lived experience of communities when they're dealing with disasters. What we've heard, and what the Royal Commission into the Black Summer Bushfires heard, was that the system was too complex, that people had to tell their stories to numerous agencies, that it was too hard for councils to access disaster recovery funding to deal with things like road repairs, bridge repairs. Andrew Colvin, who was the first head of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, is leading that review and he's had firsthand experience through that Bushfire recovery position in understanding what communities are saying when it comes to disaster recovery and payments. Please make a submission into that. It's really important that those people who have been through that disaster response and recovery are able to give their advice about how the system can be improved. If you jump on the National Emergency Management Agency website, the NEMA website, submissions are open until July 14. We really want to hear from you because we need to get this right, because we know natural disasters are not something that will go away, but we can improve the way we deal with the recovery period when we're listening to people who have been through it.

SEAL: And on natural disasters, weather is a topic for many farmers, who are certainly welcoming the recent rain events in the lead up to the possible upcoming El Nino event. Our meteorologist’s saying that there's an 85 per cent chance of that happening, which most people no doubt know. Warmer and drier conditions ahead, particularly for eastern parts of the country. So, what are you hearing from farmers, Minister?

MCBAIN: We know that farmers are preparing for a potential El Nino situation. Much hotter, drier weather coming and less rainfall. It's important that we are working with farmers and we've seen that already through our drought resilience programs. We're working with farmers every year to ensure that they're ready for a potential drought, which is really important. Farmers are saying that they're really interested in the science, that they want more research to be done so that they know going forward whether the crops they've currently got are going to continue to be the ones they need to farm in their part of the world. Or, whether we need to look at adapting their crops for the area in which they live in. There is more work to do here. The important thing is that we don't wait until we get to a drought to address it. We're dealing with this every day, and I know my colleague, Minister Watt is having conversations with farming groups all the time about preparing for the next drought.

SEAL: All right, we do have to wrap it up there, but at start of this chat Minister, you mentioned a shout out to the school. Of course, school holidays here for many people across the region and also a great place for people to travel to the regions if they are on holidays. Do you want to say anything more on a positive note about the school holidays and heading to perhaps where you are?

MCBAIN: Enjoy your school holidays, kids. Parents, the two weeks shall pass. We just have to get through it, but please get out and spend your money across our local economy, especially in regional Australia. We really appreciate it.

SEAL: All right. Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for Eden-Monaro. Thank you so much for your time.

MCBAIN: Thank you.