Interview with Glenney, Triple M Goldfields

Glenney: From Bali in the events that have happened at Lombok overnight, to talk to the Deputy Prime Minister who joins us this morning. Michael McCormack is in Kalgoorlie-Boulder for a quick visit to have a look at the facilities here in town and meet with the locals last night and also to endorse candidate Nick Fardell for the Senate. The Deputy Prime Minister is with us this morning on the phone. Good morning to you.

Michael McCormack: Good morning Glen.

Glenney: Now Michael, tell us a little bit about your visit to Kalgoorlie-Boulder, you met with some locals last night, what are some of the concerns that they shared with you about our region?

Michael McCormack: Certainly infrastructure—wherever I go—is front and centre of everything people want to talk to me about. We've got a $75 billion, a record amount, being spent on infrastructure over the next decade and of course, every community large and small, wants a part of the action when it comes to that infrastructure bucket of money that is there.

And Kalgoorlie is absolutely no different. And this morning I had a meeting with stakeholders and the Mayor John Bowler, and talking about potential inter-modal and of course that's been on the table, on the discussion board for a few years now.

But certainly that's the sort of infrastructure that the Federal Government is always looking at. Inter-modals such a big part of logistics these days, networks to better connect regional communities with ports and of course markets. We're got some free trade agreements that are going gangbusters, with South Korea, Japan, China. Just recently signed one up with Peru.

So there's a lot happening in the trade space, we need to be able to fill those trade opportunities with making sure we've got the right infrastructure right across regional Australia, indeed right across the nation.

Glenney: Looking at that rail routing and that inter-modal facility you're probably looking at some concerns with safety with eliminating rail crossings but also speed and helping speed up from location A, which is somewhere near Golden Ridge, through to West Kalgoorlie—that's a proposed route that is in place at the moment. Are they some of the factors that you're looking at? That obviously has a big impact on business too.

Michael McCormack: Absolutely and we had some transport companies there this morning, we had obviously people who are very keen on the project and have got some really interesting discussion happening there.

It's an important project for Kalgoorlie, appreciate that. Getting goods off roads not only helps protect the roads and gets people sooner and safer home and to their destinations. But it also makes good economic sense and getting it onto rail, you know, if there was a business case for it the Federal Government's certainly happy to look at it.

Glenney: Now moving on to some other details on your visit to Kalgoorlie-Boulder last night, you're out at Sundowner for The Nationals with Nick Fardell. You've got the chance to saddle alongside Nick against the locals, just tell us about Nick. He's a big man isn't he?

Michael McCormack: Yes, I stood in his shadow there for quite a while. I think everybody stands in Nick Fardell's shadow. He's a big man with a big heart and a big voice and he's the sort of person that I'd like to get to Canberra.

We need good representation in Canberra of course, and we've got some great representation from the west in my Coalition friends, my Liberal Party friends. But you know, I'd like to obviously get a National Party voice in there as well to certainly spruik the benefits of regional WA, of which there are many, and getting somebody there from Kal would just be a bonus.

Glenney: Deputy Prime Minister as well, just to let you know yesterday with that assistance to drought-affected farmers, you'd love to see some more done—$12,000 earmarked yesterday and the prospect of probably some more going into what is going to be another harsh summer.

Michael McCormack: Oh, it is and there's no end in sight to the drought. But every dry day is we're one day closer to rain.

We're in a nation of droughts and flooding rains and I know that our farmers appreciate that.

They're also, the very most resilient people in the nation, in the world indeed. And they are very much the best farmers in the world.

But they do need a bit of help this time and that's why we've put that money on the table in a couple of payments, the first in September, the next one in March, to help them through this dry period. There'll be other things to happen. This isn't just the last of it.

We've obviously put money on the table previously—tens of millions of dollars—for rural financial counselling help, for mental health check-ups for people.

And I say to farmers, if they are in troubled times, certainly don't self-assess. Make sure they get the help that is there. Too many farmers, sometimes they think they're not eligible for this assistance, but indeed they are and of course with yesterday's raising the threshold of $5 million, we've tweaked the changes to the farm household assistance.

So obviously with state governments, we've done a bit, but of course we just need it to rain and can't make it do that, but we can be there side by side with our farmers in this partnership to help them through these troubling times.

Glenney: Federal Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack with us. Hope you enjoyed your time here in Kalgoorlie Boulder and we hope to see you back very soon.

Michael McCormack: I always enjoy it here and I've got a great mate in Tony Crook. I stayed at his place last night. My wife, Catherine, and his wife, Karen, are very good friends. They have been for many, many years.

So it's always good to come over here. I love Kal and the people here are very, very friendly. It's a great town and of course we want it to go ahead.

As the Federal Government, this the important part, not just for Western Australia but indeed the national interest. So, we're looking forward to coming back very, very soon, but also looking forward to coming to the WA Nats conference in Manjimup in October. So that should be an exciting time too.

Glenney: Deputy Prime Minister, thank you.