Sounds of the Mountains Radio Interview

7:38AM

DAVID EISENHAUER

As we do every couple of weeks, we catch up with the Deputy Prime Minister. Michael McCormack joins me on the line this morning. Michael, a very good morning to you.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

A very chilly morning by the sounds of things up there, David.

DAVID EISENHAUER

If you’re up at Cabramurra it would be. Plenty of snow, too. We’ve got chains on the Snowy Mountains Highway up the top through Kiandra this morning and yes, a bit of a mix of weather but it’s like that in September, isn’t it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Spring’s always changeable but pleasingly, we’ve had good rain right across the region and the crops have never looked better, albeit, that said, some have suffered and sustained some hail damage the other day, which was very unfortunate. And that of course, is going to cause them problems because once hail batters down a crop sometimes there’s no coming back. But the headers these days are pretty good, they can go pretty low on the ground and pick up some of that valuable grain.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Let’s hope so, with the lifters on. Very important.

As the Deputy PM and I know very much a staunch supporter of Legacy, a 97th birthday today Michael, it’s an amazing organisation, Legacy and Legatees, don’t they do a wonderful job?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They do, for families right across the region, right across the nation. And it’s been, as you say, going for nearly 100 years. A wonderful organisation and without it some of those families who have lost loved ones, of course and veterans in the war, they would not know where to turn. So if you get the opportunity, buy a Legacy badge.

DAVID EISENHAUER

That’s right. A little bit different with their fundraiser, I know our year 12 students are out and about around the region, more so as a bit after a production effort though. It’s very hard for them to raise funds, but I know in Tumut, Tumut High School are raising funds for the Black Dog Institute and of course, some very worthwhile organisations and causes being raised for.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

There are and it’s a bit more difficult this year for charitable organisations to raise money because of COVID restrictions. But they’re doing their best and they all do wonderful work for the local community.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Federal budget time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Indeed, not far away now – Tuesday week. Josh Frydenberg will go to the dispatch box and announce a jobs and infrastructure budget. Of course, we’ve been working on it very diligently over particularly recent weeks but over the past few months. It’s very difficult because of course, the budget was supposed to be handed down in May. We were working towards that all elusive budget surplus for the first time for 12 years but of course, then COVID struck and we’ve had to outlay – I’d rather say invest – $314 billion into the economy to make sure that we get the health outcomes right first and foremost of course, Dave, but then of course, make sure we cushion the economy as best we could from the effects of COVID-19.

Of course, we still have the fallout from the drought, the bushfires, certainly up in your part of the world there in the Snowy Mountains in Batlow and of course, Tumbarumba and elsewhere, that’s still taking its toll – the bushfires. But we’re addressing all of those things. We’re making sure that people as best we can are still connected with their workplaces and of course, for those people who found themselves on the unemployment queue for the first time in a long time – if ever – you know, we’ve got those JobSeeker arrangements. That said of course, we have to transition out of this. The Regional Australia Institute only yesterday identified that there are 45,500 jobs in regional Australia, not just in mining, not just in resources, not just in agriculture, but many other fields of endeavour. So I encourage anybody to have a look at the RIA’s website and to see what they can do. Because we’re going to of course, particularly coming up to this harvest, we will be finding a lot of fruit needing to be picked and a lot of harvest needing to be done. And not many people out there able to be doing it because we’ve got, of course, those restrictions on overseas labour.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Of course the border restrictions, I mean, they were causing some concerns a few weeks ago. They’ve become a little bit more eased now which will make it a bit easier to get the fruit off the trees.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, thankfully, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announced earlier this week the border between New South Wales and South Australia was reopened and that’s good. Of course, he’s doing a good job over there in South Australia and of course, we’re working towards getting consistency through that Agriculture Workers’ Code. I know I’ve been doing a bit of work as Acting Agriculture Minister this week on that. David Littleproud of course, has been working hard on that. We’ve got the Transport Code in so trucks can have ease of access, we just need those border restrictions lifted. We need to get back to work and appreciating that Victoria’s situation is improving by day.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It is and it is good news.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I should say Melbourne’s situation is improving by day. It’s more Melbourne than it is Victoria.

DAVID EISENHAUER

That’s very true and you know, look, the border region, that was expanded only a few weeks ago to include as far as Lockhart. It’s a big district out there sort of centralised around the Murray River, but it’s all – we’re talking in that district Mildura and of course as far as Batlow. All fruit-picking areas, and there’s no real machines that do those jobs. You’ve got to have those people on the ground, don’t you?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, you’ve got to have the willing and enthusiastic workers. And they do a great job and we of course, grow the best food and fibre too, in all of the world. And we need it for domestic supply but we also need it for those markets. No point growing it if we can’t sell it and we are a trading nation and we do very well in that regard.

DAVID EISENHAUER

One thing, Deputy Prime Minister, that we have noticed too, there was a big long train making its way out in the central western districts for the very first time – the Inland Rail is really moving ahead, steaming ahead – luckily it’s not steam.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

The first section completed and opened last week. First train on the track on Tuesday. This is exciting news. This is momentous. And more than just that, you know, there was $110 million during that Parkes to Narromine section – the first of 13 sections of the Inland Rail. $110 million went to 99 local firms, everything from Calvani Crushing and Ausrock Quarries, good local firms, put on more people. They benefited. There’s motels, there’s all sorts of business who also benefit from that. And for many of those local companies – and they don’t have to be just on the line either David, I need to mention that. People who are running a small business should visit www.inlandrail.gov.au and see how they can be part of the action, because the Inland Rail work now goes from Narromine to North Star, but it is going to be a build over the next few years and it’s going to take until the mid-2020s to finish it, but there’s some exciting opportunities for so many small businesses in regional areas to get a slice of the action.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And we compare that to Snowy 2.0 in the local region. I mean, it’s creating more and more jobs all the time. Paul Broad is the first champion of the benefits of keeping those lights going and 2.0, we’re seeing a little bit more activity each and every day on this side of the ranges.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

He’s a good man, it’s a good project.

DAVID EISENHAUER

There’s going to be a lot of interesting things happening once these weather conditions clear a bit more. And it’s an amazing sight to see Lobbs Hole at the moment and just to see the amount of work that’s been done. It’s unfortunate the community can’t see it all, it’s very much like Snowy Hydro – two per cent of the Snowy scheme is visible, the rest of its underground – and this will be very much the same, won’t it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, absolutely and it’s a bit like the billion dollars that is being spent on Wagga’s defence bases. Now not a lot of that is seen because of course, it’s behind high security gates. But rest assured, there’s a lot of joineries and all sorts of businesses in Wagga Wagga and district benefitting from that. I say again, Tumut businesses can benefit from all this, whether it’s defence procurement, whether It’s Inland Rail or whether it’s, as you say, Snowy 2.0. I mean there are so many opportunities and of course, all those businesses in Wynyard Street and elsewhere, they can all benefit from it.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Now, Mr McCormack, I can’t ask you this question, I can’t get you to pick a side. I can’t get you to pick the winning team for this Sunday, but it is Group 9 Grand Final weekend.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

What a game it is going to be. I was speaking to Peter McDermott, the Group 9 President last night. He said this is the best action outside the NRL. You will not get better or more competitive football than you will see at the Equex Centre in Wagga Wagga on Sunday, kick-off at 4pm. Of course, we’ve got the league-taggers going around. It’s going to be a great day. It really is. And I tell you what, I was looking at the front row of the Tumut Blues – Zac Masters, Lachlan Bristow and Jed Pearce – I wouldn’t want to run into them. And the two coaches – Adam Perry for the Tigers and of course we’ve got Dean Bristow for Tumut – they’re farewelling on Sunday. It’s Dean’s last game. Adam said he’s not going to be coaching Gundagai next year. So you know for them, they want to go out with a fairytale finish. It’s going to be a cracking good game. And of course, I was doing a little bit of research last night and my research tells me that the only time they’ve actually met in a grand final – they’re both foundation clubs in Group 9, 1923 they go back to – was I think in 2003 when of course, Tumut won pretty convincingly, 31-10. Of course, Tumut in their long, long history they’ve won it eight times. They’ve only ever won it twice-in-a-row once and that was back in 2007, 2008. They’ve got a very proud record though, Tumut. Whereas Gundagai, whilst they’ve won a few competitions, they’ve also been a runner-up on a lot of occasions and particularly in recent years. So they’ll be wanting to amend that, too, so it should be a good game.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It was the very first outside broadcast we ever did with this station – they launched, they won the Grand Final, Tumut Blues – the same year we built Sounds of the Mountains. And we were running a few years prior, but that first year of official licensing, we remember the bus turned up in town. So who knows what will happen at around 7.30 this coming Sunday. I know a lot of Gundagai supporters are going to be back at Anzac Park on Sunday night down there because you can get a few more people in the grounds.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Look out, Tiger Town.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It’s all black and gold.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, they’re allowed 2,900 at the grand final, so it’s going to be a much bigger crowd than it was at the Riverina Championship where Wagga Tigers beat Leeton Whitton last Saturday at Robertson Oval. So you’ll probably hear them from Tumut, the noise, if the Blues get up. I know they’re all pretty keen and there’s some good players in both sides, some really, really fantastic footballers, so may the best team win.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Absolutely and Michael McCormack, thank you very much for joining us for a chat. We’re always pressed in amongst that 7.30am to 8am spot with everything that’s on, but appreciate you taking time out of your schedule and particularly at the moment as Acting Agriculture Minister as well as your portfolio to have a chat to us today. Anything else that you’d like to add this morning while we’re chatting?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I could be really parochial for your listeners and say, “Go Blues!” But I’ll say again, it’s going to be a great game. May the best team win and I’m sure whichever team wins they’ll be celebrating come Sunday night and for the losers, well, they can have another crack next year.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Absolutely. Really appreciate your time joining us on the station this morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good on you. Thanks Dave.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Of course, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack joining us as a regular voice on the station every couple of weeks.

ENDS 7:49AM

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