Interview with George Frame, 88.9 FM Tamworth
George Frame: I have the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack with me at this present stage. Michael, this has been a fairly—what you might say—heart-warming morning, hasn't it, with everybody turning up to hear what has to be said?
Michael McCormack: Oh it has. And it's overwhelming actually the number of people who've come to seek advice, to tell their stories and to listen to how they can actually seek access to services. And there's Centrelink here, there's mental health services, there's the Australian Taxation Office and they're all very compassionate organisations. They truly are in these times of crisis and this is a crisis, make no mistake.
We've got a packed hall here. Barnaby Joyce is here. Kevin Anderson the State Member for Tamworth is here. And we're here to listen; we're here to help and we're here to just do whatever we can to provide assistance.
George Frame: Well what you're doing is quite unique. We've set up these forums which is the extension of the RU Aware We Care? appeal. Because we've been raising money. There's been concerts, a whole range of things. The Salvation Army been collecting a whole range of goods. And it leads us to this forum where everybody can get together and meet the various government departments so congratulations to you supporting this, it's been most important.
Michael McCormack: Well thanks to you too George, and your team at 88.9 FM. Without you this probably wouldn't have been possible. And Russell Webb has also done a power of work. I know he phoned my office after you initially contacted him.
And this is how this has come about. This is the power of radio, the power of community radio. But so many people are taking advantage of this and they're here to seek help. There's hampers here for them. Farmers are the very best and resilient in the world, our Australian farmers. We want to help them get through this. It's going to take many more weeks and months, indeed perhaps even years, to get over this drought. It is the worst since 1965, they're saying. But we'll get through it because that's the sort of effort that Australians do.
And I've heard assistance offers from Tasmania and Western Australia. They're calling in, they're saying what can we do to help? That's what Australians do. When we're on our knees, that's what Australians do. They chip in. They help. They pitch in. They provide assistance and you've done that too with your radio station, so thank you very much.
George Frame: This is grassroots isn't it, community effort?
Michael McCormack: It's love, care and support—grassroots level.
George Frame: As far as the Government is concerned you've got $190 million grant scheme at the moment but leaving that to one side at the moment, I think the thing being is that on the ground is really the most important thing, making announcements but you actually coming here and appearing before the people having a listen to what they have to say; that must be pretty important for you to feed back to Canberra?
Michael McCormack: It is important and I am in daily contact with Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister, about what we can further do to support.
I come from an area of Riverina in South West New South Wales. It's in drought too. So you know there's not too many areas of NSW that aren't in drought and city people understand it too. I sometimes think there's a disconnect between city and rural folk, but with this one, no there's not.
There's a lot of city people too willing to put their hands up and more importantly their hands in their pocket to say what can we do? How can we provide assistance and where can we send it?
George Frame: Michael, thank you very much.
Michael McCormack: Thanks George.
George Frame: I know you enjoy going and talking to the people but thanks for the Federal Government's help on this project.
Michael McCormack: Thank you very much George and thanks for your help too.