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

JAYNIE SEAL, PRESENTER: Former Labor Minister John Kerin, who served under the Hawke and Keating Governments has died aged 85. First elected to Parliament in 1972, he played a key role during former Prime Minister Bob Hawke's reign in government, by removing tariffs from imported agricultural products. He also drove major agricultural policy reforms, which boosted farm productivity and research. He then took on the roles of Transport and Trade Ministers before taking on the Treasury under Paul Keating's leadership. Joining me live is Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for Eden-Monaro. Thank you Minister so much for joining us. Sad news on the passing of former Labor Minister John Kerin. We've had some inspiring tributes, including from the Prime Minister, describing him as the best Minister for Primary Industries we've ever had.

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Good morning, Jaynie. Very sad news for John’s family, and the wider Labor movement. The Prime Minister has put it very eloquently, and the current Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said he was the most reforming agricultural minister we've ever had in this country. He was widely respected across the aisle, he was a real giant of the Labor Party and right up till the end was campaigning with a number of my colleagues at the last election. He truly was a giant in politics, but a gentleman as well.

SEAL: Well said. Let's turn our attention to the New South Wales state election and congratulations Labor - a big win there. I noticed on your Twitter feed you congratulated Steve Whan, and mentioned that you're looking forward to working with him with social housing, education, services for the vulnerable and fantastic new community infrastructure.

MCBAIN: That's right. A very impressive win by Steve Whan in the seat of Monaro. A fantastic result across New South Wales for the Labor Party. I’m really looking forward to continuing the work with my state colleagues, both doctor Dr Michael Holland and Steve Whan in the seats of Bega and Monaro in my own electorate. Congratulations to the other state members in my electorate who have retained their seat. Justin Clancy in Albury, Dr Joe McGirr in Wagga. Goulburn is still being counted at this point in time, but looking forward to working with whomever the state member is there. It's really important that the different levels of government once elected, are getting on with the job of delivering. I continue to work hard with my state colleagues and local councils across the electorate, because our communities have been through some tough years. They are asking us to work together in their interest, particularly on things like education, on housing, and on communications. It's important that they see us working together to achieve those aims.

SEAL: I know the big discussion that we've been speaking to on all sides of parliament, and not just this state election, is the regions very often get forgotten. This week, a big week in Parliament, the National Reconstruction Fund passed the Senate. What will this mean for the regions?

MCBAIN: It's fantastic to see the National Reconstruction Fund pass both houses. Now an important policy that we went to the election with, $15 billion to pump up our manufacturing in Australia. The lesson we learned from COVID-19 was that we needed to make more things here. We didn't want to be at the end of broken supply chains. I want to thank the Members of the crossbench in the Senate, the Greens, David Pocock, the Lambie Network. I really thank them for the work that they've done in getting the National Reconstruction Fund passed. It's a vote for secure jobs. It's a vote for manufacturing in our regions. It's a vote to support our workers and manufacturing in Australia. Unfortunately, the Coalition have resigned themselves to irrelevance by not being part of the debate. They voted against increasing manufacturing in Australia, they voted against workers getting more secure jobs, they voted against making things in Australia, and they've continued on the path of wrecking manufacturing like they did when they scared the car industry out of Australia. Unfortunately for them, they won't be part of this manufacturing boom that we will now see in the regions.

SEAL: We've just been speaking to Joel Philp, our political reporter, about the population growth. It’s expected to get to almost over a million over the next two years. Big news, and I believe that around 20 per cent of immigrants are located across the regions. Again, that whole discussion about housing, where are we going to put them?

MCBAIN: It's really important that we are having discussions about housing at a federal level, as well as at state level and local council level. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to make sure we have a planning system fit for the 21st century. I have a Local Government Ministers’ meeting tomorrow with ministers from across the country, and planning will once again be on my list to discuss with them. It is high time that we look at the supply side of things and we need to make sure that we're getting unnecessary regulation out of the way, so that development applications can be approved at a quicker pace. It's really important that we have a Senate that understands that the Housing Australia Future Fund is an absolute necessity. It will be the largest investment in social and affordable housing in over a decade. It doesn't absolve the states or territories from their responsibilities to also be part of the housing solution, but it is a significant investment. I'd say to the crossbench - you know that there is a housing crisis, you know that more needs to be done. Let's start here and actually get some work done. It is time that people quit the arguing, and let's get some substantial work done here. The Housing Australia Future Fund is the way to start that.

SEAL: Minister, a proposal to alter the words of the Australian Constitution to enshrine an Indigenous Voice is going to be presented to Federal Parliament today, and there certainly have been concerns over the wording. Much divide between legal experts.

MCBAIN: The Machinery Referendum Bill passed last week, which was fantastic, and that was a bipartisan Bill to allow the Referendum to take place. Today, we introduce the question into the House. This is after much deliberation with the Referendum Working Group, and considering the previous committee set up by the last government. There is some consternation and questions, because people want to delay advising the Australian public what their stance on the Voice is - particularly the Liberal Party. The words and work established by the previous committee, chaired by the now Shadow Attorney-General have been adopted – but now we have the Liberal Party saying that this is not the way forward. So we would ask them to let the Australian people know where they stand on the Voice, because we need this done. This is so we can move together as a nation that recognises First Nations peoples in the constitution. As one of the elders in my own community put it, we've tried it your way, now is the time for change. When it's put like that, it's very simple.

SEAL: Thank you very much for your time, Minister McBain. Regional Development, Local Government and Territories Minister, and Member for Eden-Monaro. We'll talk to you again same time next week.