Doorstop - Wagga Wagga NSW: Multi-Purpose Stadium, Copland Street Wagga Wagga

Michael McCormack: Today is a game-changer—not just for the City of Wagga Wagga but indeed for the entire Riverina region.

This new multi-purpose centre is going to make such a difference to the lives of Wagga Wagga people, those people who play sport, particularly our netballers. I want to congratulate Wagga Wagga Netball Association: A quarter of a million dollars’ investment in their future. I know that the 2,000 female players, let alone the male players, who enjoy that great sport, are going to get so much enjoyment out of this facility. This facility is so badly needed for our city, but also it is going to make such a difference for the entire region.

Now at the weekend we saw the Wagga Wagga touch book out the city as far as accommodation is concerned with the junior carnival, let alone what this facility will do for our city, for netball, for other sports and also for conferences and conventions. This is what happens when The Nationals in Government deliver: $4.4 million from the Federal Liberal Nationals Government under the National Stronger Regions Fund. This is what The Nationals do in Government. We deliver. We hear the concerns and the requests of the people we serve, and we deliver: This facility; other facilities; road infrastructure and other things too. We’re building a better future. We’re building a better sporting future and Wagga Wagga and the region are the beneficiaries of it.

Question: (inaudible)

Michael McCormack: It’s absolutely crucial. The Bolton Park stadium, while it’s still a very good facility still serving the needs of our city well into the future, it is past its use-by date. I know as a young sports reporter there in the 1980s, even then we were looking to build a bigger and better facility. This just ticks all the boxes. Anyone who has come down to the Equex Centre and watched netball in the cold of winter, at night, knows just how cold it is. You get a warm, all-enclosed facility such as this—it makes the world of difference, not just for the players but for their supporters, their coaches, their parent and their families and support groups as well. 

This is, as I say, such a game-changer for our city and I’m excited that The Nationals have delivered—$4.4 million towards this $9.2 million facility which is going to make such a difference not just for netball but indeed it will attract conventions and conferences from right throughout the nation. This is state-of-the-art. This is world class and I’m so excited to be part of the opening.

Question: Is it just netball games that are going to be held here or other games?

Michael McCormack: Look around—you can play basketball here; you can play futsal; you can play anything that can be played indoors. It can be done right here. It’s going to tick so many boxes for Wagga Wagga, indeed for the whole region. Of course, with so many people involved in sport in Wagga Wagga it is the sporting capital of the regions; it is the sporting capital of Australia: make no mistake, Wagga Wagga has produced so many sporting champions and because of facilities such as this, the sporting champions for the future will be coming from our city. This is going to spurn a whole new breed of sporting champions out of our city and out of our region. That’s the difference this facility makes.

Question: (inaudible)

Michael McCormack: It will hold everything: music festivals, all those sorts of things. It’s got the capacity for 3,000 people to come to a music event, to come to any sort of concert. So I know we have a wonderful facility in the Botanic Gardens for when we have Christmas Carols and all those sorts of things, but if the weather turns nasty they can have it down here. This is going to be such a great facility for the city, for music, for sport, for conventions, for family reunions—all sorts of things. Wagga Wagga has a number of good facilities. We’ve got the clay target facility now; of course a number of our schools also have facilities thanks to the Federal Government. The Federal Government is investing in this city’s future, in this region’s future.

Question: How do you fell about Kevin Mack (inaudible) threat to the Coalition?

Michael McCormack: Well good luck to Kevin Mack. I know him well. I’ve spoken to him on a number of occasions. I say good luck to him. It takes a bit of gumption to put your hand up for office, but do you know what: Sussan Ley has done an outstanding job for Farrer. Sussan Ley keeps delivering. She is part of a Liberal Nationals team which delivers for regional Australia. She will go on continuing to deliver for regional Australia. Independents? They might talk a lot but they deliver very little—in fact, nothing. They talk a big game. They throw stones at the tent. Sussan Ley is in that tent. She is making the decisions. She is my Assistant Minister as far as regional development is concerned—and she’s delivering. She’s delivering outcomes for Farrer, whether it’s Albury, whether it’s Deniliquin, whether it’s Griffith—she’s out there every day, delivering. Kevin Mack: He’ll talk a big game, but will he deliver? Independents don’t. I’ve got to tell you, Independents do not deliver whereas Nationals and Liberals in Government do.

And when we have a strong economy, as we do at the moment—and we’ll get an even better, even stronger economy under the Liberal Nationals—we’ll continue to deliver for the regions. We will continue to provide such things as the Building Better Regions Fund, the Stronger Communities Programme; the Regional Growth Fund; the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages—all those will go if you get a Labor Government. All those will go if Bill Shorten becomes Prime Minister. And Independents only ever support Labor. They always talk about the fact that they support the Liberals and Nationals but they only do on procedural motions; generally they will always vote for Labor on the important legislative measures. The fact is that Sussan Ley has delivered. She will continue to deliver. She has my support and I will be out there campaigning for Sussan Ley.

Question: The Coalition is releasing its climate change policy today. Can you give us a sneak peek?

Michael McCormack: No. That’s up to the Prime Minister to do. But let me tell you, with our climate change policies we won’t be going down the path of Bill Shorten having a 45% emissions reduction target. We won’t be destroying the country. You can have an even balance. You can have emissions outputs which meet Kyoto, meet Paris Agreement levels, and we’ve done that. We are knocking that out of the park as far as making sure that our emissions reductions are on target, on schedule. We are doing that. But we don’t want to de-industrialise Australia. We don’t want to make it unaffordable for pensioners, for families and for small businesses: when they flick the switch they need to know that they can afford their electricity. That’s why I’m glad I’m part of the Liberal and Nationals Government which has sensible policies, sensible climate change policies, making sure that we look after the environment while at the same time not making electricity unaffordable; at the same time not making our farmers have to pay exceedingly too much for power.

And when it comes to water, we’ve got balanced policies through the Murray Darling Basin Plan—a plan which had bipartisan agreement and which still does. We just have to let it rain—only the weather can do that. Government can’t make it rain. The fact is that we’ve got the right policies in place. We’re looking at jobs. We’re looking at affordability for power. We will continue to do that. We’re not going to go down the Bill Shorten path of de-industrialising Australia and forcing manufacturing offshore.

Question: One more thing (inaudible) have told farmers not to talk to the ARTC about the Inland Rail?

Michael McCormack: I’ve never told farmers not to talk to the ARTC. I have engaged with NSW Farmers; I’ve engaged with individual farmers. That is not correct and I wish the NSW Farmers would correct that. I have written to them on a number of occasions. I am always up for consultation. I have met with them in Narrabri. I’ve met with farmers right up and down the line, in Parkes—you name it, I have been there. In Queensland, in Victoria I have spoken to the Ministers. I have always been open. I have always been engaging. I will continue to do that as far as the Inland Rail is concerned. It is a more than $9 billion investment by this nation, by the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government. You only get this sort of delivery when you have a Liberal and Nationals Government running the show.

The fact is—this is going to be such a game-changer. It is going to take $10 off a tonne for freight between Brisbane and Melbourne. It is a 1700 kilometre corridor of commerce. It is going to be a game-changer for the farmers of our regions. I’m backing it. I just wish the NSW Farmers in that release last week had actually got the facts right. The facts are these: I’m happy to engage. I have had a full consultation process. This process has been going on for years. I’m happy to continue to engage but we have to be factual. We have to be up front. Don’t put media releases out that don’t state all the facts. The fact is—and I’ve got all the letters to prove it—I have always been happy to engage with farmers, whether that is individual farmers, individual landholders or indeed the NSW Farmers, and I will continue to do that.

Thank you very much.