Transcript - Interview with Kerry Peck, 2BS Radio

KERRY PECK

So this is really good this morning. I get a chance to talk to a person I have a lot of regard for in fact, I think the Government generally is doing a very good job at this particular moment and on the line, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. Good morning, sir.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, Kerry. I've got a high regard for you too, the voice of the central-west for many, many years so your reputation precedes you.

KERRY PECK

More years than I care to remember, I've got to say. Look, the first cab off the rank this morning, there was some criticism floating around about the Government's support for Regional Express and if the big fellas are going to ask for the money well, why shouldn't the little fellas ask for it as well? But this is a very important part of, you know, Bathurst, Parkes, Orange, Dubbo, you name it, not only for passenger services but, you know, medical people coming to the central west and things like that so it really was a no-brainer, wasn't it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it was and REX was just one of 36 regional airlines to benefit from the assistance that we've provided and REX flies to 35 regional centres which otherwise do not receive any air services and so it was important for REX to apply for and to be given, part of that money under the Regional Airline Network Support Program and let me tell you, but for REX and but for those other regional air services, some of those regional communities would not have received the front-line medical personnel. Would not have received the personal protection equipment, the face masks, the respiratory devices. It wasn't done for the airlines necessarily, it was done moreover for the communities they serve and they have served proudly for many, many years and make no apologies for the fact that those rural and regional communities had those air services provided by Federal Government assistance because, but for that assistance they would have been left, Kerry, very much high and dry and without getting that front-line medical support and the equipment that they so desperately needed to get them through COVID-19.

KERRY PECK

Now, I was talking last week to the Mayor of Parkes, in fact, which is a little bit of my area.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Ken Keith.

KERRY PECK

Yes, talking to Ken. Some of the things that are happening in the bush and I'm sort of leading in here to the shovel-ready projects really but, you know, like the Inland Rail that's going through Parkes at the moment, I mean, that's employing a lot of people in the West, isn't it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Hundreds. Hundreds and hundreds of people in the Parkes to Narromine section, one of the sections in fact, the first thereof, is almost completed and of course we'll get on to the next one to North Star, very, very shortly but it is not only local jobs, it is also local procurement so local businesses, whether they're providing accommodation, whether they're providing coffees, haircuts. No matter what the case might be, they're all benefiting from the Inland Rail and of course it's something that has been talked about since the 1890’s, well, we're getting on and we're building.

KERRY PECK

Yes, it's amazing, isn't it? Now these shovel-ready projects, I think it's a fantastic initiative and I tell you what, you're spending a fair bit of money on it too, I might add.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Look, we are and, you know, we're working with the State. I stood with Paul Toole, the State Roads Minister, on Monday and we talked about our joint efforts to make sure that those rural and regional roads get the upgrades, the road-safety upgrades, you know, that lick of asphalt, that strengthening and widening of shoulders, line marking. I mean, they might sound little things but they make a difference and they actually save lives, whether it's the central-west or anywhere in regional New South Wales – I know Andrew Gee's been fighting and advocating hard, as has Sam Farraway, for better roads and Paul Toole and I delivered on Monday.

KERRY PECK

I think that's marvellous and the other thing too that I just – out of left field this one is, I noticed that Andrew Gee was out at the airport recently. Bathurst airport has the opportunity, I believe, to be one of the – well, I think it is one of the busiest airports in country New South Wales – but, you know, with the Western Sydney Airport opening and more traffic down there, Bathurst is set to boom, I think.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Absolutely and so Andrew would have been talking up the $500,000 that Bathurst Regional Council has for upgrading the aerodrome taxiway there. So and again, it's for flood management works for the taxiway, it's for lighting. It mightn't sound important in the scheme of things but it leads to local jobs, it leads to local procurement and vital upgrades for the integral part of that gateway to Bathurst and we all know Bathurst is a great town and it's growing and we want it to grow even further and when the Regional Australia Institute comes out with a report just this week which suggests that tens of thousands of people are flocking out of the hustle and bustle and hassle of the capital cities and moving to regional areas, we want our regional towns such as Bathurst to be their best selves and that's why we're investing heavily, $100 billion, a third of which is going to regional Australia.

KERRY PECK

That's good stuff. I really appreciate your time this morning. I know you're very busy at this stage and just finally this morning I'd like to, on my behalf and also the behalf of the people in the city here, maybe to invite you to come and visit us one day and I know you've probably been here before, obviously, but, you know, we'd like to show – 

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Many times, but would love to. I would love to pop into the studio and have a cup of coffee and talk about all the great things that we've got planned for Bathurst and the region.

KERRY PECK

I want to also show you the – I don't know whether you've seen it, have you seen the new rail museum, by the way, here in Bathurst? You probably haven't at this stage.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I have not but I would love to go there.

KERRY PECK

It really is a fantastic initiative by the council. So thank you for your time. I really, really appreciate it. Thanks for that.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Pleasure.

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