Transcript - Bush Summit Interview, Sky News

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

We're here at The Daily Telegraph Bush Summit in Cooma and I'm joined at the moment by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Great to be here in Cooma today. We heard the Prime Minister's sentiments on borders, it was quite an impassioned speech about the ramifications that we are going to see from that. Is that a sentiment that you share?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, border closures mean job losses. Border closures mean restrictions on people's lives and livelihoods. So what we want to see, as soon as possible is border restrictions eased. We want to see planes off the ground and if there's one thing stopping domestic air travel, it is border closures. Planes in the air means jobs on the ground. We want to see as many of those people who've lost their jobs at Virgin, at Qantas and at other airlines – many of those jobs reinstated because we need to see planes back in the air.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

We know overnight unfortunately, I've heard this tragic news coming out of northern New South Wales in Ballina with this family who have travelled to Sydney as opposed to going to Brisbane, what are your thoughts on that?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It's just tragic. And as a father, I know how heart-wrenching this must be. I really actually can’t imagine, I can't imagine it. You know, our lives are lived through our children. We want the best for our children. As I say, these border closures are hurting health, they are affecting lives and the sooner they get lifted the better off we’ll be and it’s just not right that these things happen in 21st century Australia.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

We've got such fantastic technology these days we're still getting all this red-tape and bureaucracy  stopping people from receiving emergency treatment.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, it is not good.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

Another point that I'd like to touch on as well is the upcoming harvest in northern New South Wales which is mere weeks away now. A lot of those farmers in the north of the State are saying that because of the border closure with Queensland, they can't get the right equipment, they cannot get workers. How much of a concern is that for these people who have been in drought for so many years and now they are going to potentially get a good yield and they are not going to be able to get it off the ground?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it’s also contractors too, it’s also contract harvesters and they do such a power of work. That’s why David Littleproud and I have been working very hard at getting an agriculture protocol and establishing consistency across our borders. We’ve done it for the transport sector so that we can get those logistics arranged, so that we can get those trucks with freedom of movement and we need the same in agriculture. I know National Cabinet is discussing this and it is a top priority for when they sit next Friday.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

How fantastic is it to be here in Cooma – obviously it is still quite drought affected down here but at least this event is something that is pumping some money back into the economy here.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, Charlotte there are also green shoots, everywhere we look there are green shoots and it’s not just Cooma – it’s right around regional New South Wales and many parts of regional Australia. I know that when we last spoke up near Tamworth, you and I spoke and it was just like a desert – just like the Sahara. We don’t want to see that. We want to see crops out of the ground. The canola crops around the Riverina and Central West are blooming yellow at the moment. It's great to see and of course, that gives people – not just in the ag’ sector – but people right across regional New South Wales and regional Australia that confidence. It changes their psychology when they get a bit of rain and it fills the dams and it gives people hope for the future.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

What are we doing for drought-proofing, looking ahead? Because there will no doubt be another drought. What are your top priorities?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well already, the first $100 million is getting out the door from the National Drought Recovery Agency – Shane Stone is doing a power of good there. We’ve put a number of really good people on the ground. And already those drought-affected communities, they’re being looked after. And of course, we're doing what we need to do to address the next drought because there is always some part of Australia which is in drought even though we see green shoots around this area and others. What we need to know is that we're also building the water infrastructure to store that water for when there are going to be future times of the big dry.

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK

Deputy Prime Minister, thank you so much for your time. We will have more from Cooma here at the Daily Telegraph Bush Summit throughout the day.

Media contact:

Dean Shachar 0418 202 860