Transcript - Interview with Lisa Millar - ABC News Breakfast

7:21AM

LISA MILLAR

Let’s go back to our top story this morning, and the Government’s $1.2 billion support package for the aviation and tourism industries. Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, joins us now from Sydney Airport. Good morning. Welcome to News Breakfast.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Live from Sydney Airport. How are you, Lisa?

LISA MILLAR

Well, hopefully there’ll be quite a few people heading to the airport. Tourism was the first to be hit, the last to return. Is this going to save the industry?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we certainly hope so, because thousands of jobs rely on this very thing. And we need to get Australians back in planes. We need to get those planes back in the air because planes in the air means jobs on the ground. And this $1.2 billion package is going to support so many businesses and so many workers.

LISA MILLAR

The trouble is these businesses are making decisions right now, aren’t they? JobKeeper disappears in three weeks, and a lot of them were still hoping that there was going to be something that would help them more directly.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And it will help them directly because –

LISA MILLAR

Not in three weeks.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

So, this program starts from April. Well, it does, because this program starts in April and runs through to July – 800,000 half price tickets, and whether it’s the airlines or whether it’s indeed those hospitality or theme parks or businesses in those destinations they are – who have, as you quite rightly say, been so hard hit – well, they’re going to be able to take benefit from that. Because every dollar spent on an airline ticket means $10 spent at the destination. So that is – the flow-on effects of this are going to be enormous.

LISA MILLAR

What about people like travel advisers and travel agents? Where do they benefit from this?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, they benefit, too, because there’s a $132 million package in addition to the $128 million that we already had on the table for those travel agents. And I know the Federation of Travel Agents are delighted with this package because that is going to support them. There’s 40,000 people who work as travel agents, 80 per cent of whom, Lisa, are women. And so, we’ve backed them, too. And we’ll continue to do so.

LISA MILLAR

It all relies on borders staying open, though, doesn’t it, and people feeling confident about travel?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Absolutely.

LISA MILLAR

Well, how can you make that happen?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Absolutely. Well, the onus is then on Premiers not to make those knee-jerk hasty decisions at a moment’s notice to have snap border closures. And as the vaccine rolls out and as JobKeeper comes off and, of course, so many people are going to be getting back to work, we need to make sure that those Premiers keep those borders open. We can’t have them just close the borders at a small community transmission outbreak. You know, we need to get on with – we’ll take the best possible medical advice, but as Brendan Murphy has said too, we need to be able to learn to live with this. We need to be able to get, of course, that vaccine rolling out. It is. And as that extends right throughout the nation, we need to get back to some sort of pre-COVID normality.

LISA MILLAR

Okay, so this runs from April to July. What if it doesn’t work? What are you going to do then? Are you going to extend it? Are you going to look at other places? I mean, you’ve sort of picked a bunch of winners here that hopefully will suddenly again get an influx of tourists.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And they need them. And what we’ve done all the way through is we’ve had our support scalable, targeted and we’ve made sure that we listened to industry. We’ve made sure we’ve listened to workers. We’ve made sure we’ve listened to Australians, and we’ve responded accordingly – $251 billion out the door. This is in addition to that. And, of course, we’ve got the budget coming up. We’ve supported Australia’s health outcomes – envy of the world in that regard. We’ve supported our economy and, indeed, when you look at other nations in the world, we’ve done very well. Thank you, Australia, for supporting what we’ve done. Thank you for social distancing and doing all those things. Still some work to do, though, Lisa.

LISA MILLAR

Very big decision coming out of Europe and the European Parliament voting overnight to place a carbon levy on products from countries that they consider have not done enough to reduce their emissions. How much is this going to cost Australian exporters?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, that remains to be seen. And I’ll be chatting about this very thing with the Trade Minister, Dan Tehan, today, who’s actually here for this announcement. He’s also the Tourism Minister. This is going to, of course, be something that we need to address and we need to look at. But we’ll do that. What we will do as far as –

LISA MILLAR

It’s really putting the pressure on Australia, though, isn’t it? It’s really another signal that Australia needs to step up and do more than it’s been doing?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we have stepped up. We’ve got more rooftop solar per capita than anywhere else in the world. We lead the world as far as that. And we’re making sure that we meet our international obligations. We’ve said that all the way through. But what we’ll do is we’ll get to where we need to get as far as lowering emissions through technology, not through taxes. We’re not going to be taxing people through their household builds. We’re not going to be able to – costing regional people, particularly their jobs.

LISA MILLAR

That might not be enough for you, though.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well – well, we’ve got trade arrangements all over the world with South America, with Asia, indeed, North America, wherever the case might be. And we’ve got the best products in all of the world. The best food, the best fibre, the best resources. Europe knows that.

LISA MILLAR

All right, Michael McCormack, thanks for your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thanks, Lisa.

ENDS 7:27AM

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