Transcript - Interview on Sounds of the Mountains Radio

DAVID EISENHAUER

Right now, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals, Michael McCormack, joins us on the line. Minister, a very good morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning to you, Dave.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Now, this morning, Minister, you’re joining us from a little bit further away than Canberra or Wagga Wagga where we talk to you at most times. You do a lot of travelling as the Leader of The Nationals, but particularly as Deputy PM and soon Acting Prime Minister, of course. But you’re down around the Eurobodalla region this morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, I am Moruya way and we’re making a couple of good announcements. One’s for a Eurobodalla water storage, which I know has been demanded and expected and perhaps deserved as well, most importantly, by the community there for some time. And we’re delivering that important piece of infrastructure. It was part of the Budget. I know it’s going to be well received – that announcement – by locals and we want to start work on these sorts of things very, very soon because water storage is so important. Of course, so is flood mitigation and all of these pieces of water infrastructure tap into our – pardon the pun – $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund. We’re getting on with the job of actually building the infrastructure that regional Australia particularly, so desperately needs.

But also, there’s a $10 million boost – $10 million – for the Kosciusko Snowy Iconic Walk and I know James Hayes has welcomed this in as the Snowy Valleys Mayor. I know this is going to be such a good piece of infrastructure because that is an iconic walk through the Snowy Mountains area there. It offers year-round tourism and hopefully, the walk, once upgraded, will attract more visitors to the region and I know that this is going to be well received by locals too. It’s part of that $10 million local economic recovery partnership. So, these areas have been hard hit by, as you know, bushfires, in some areas floods, COVID-19, of course and not to mention the drought that happened before all of these things and that wasn’t that long ago. So, the Snowy Mountains is no longer just a winter destination, as you know, Dave, it’s a choice year-round for people to travel to and visit and take in the beautiful sights.

DAVID EISENHAUER

I mean, the mountains have been historic for many years and when you look back in time, I mean, going back we were only talking a few days ago about that big chairlift, that it was Ansett and a few others many, many years ago, put in. It didn’t work. It started – the little base is still down there. It was a Police station and a little fire station at one stage, too. It was a bottom station for the Kosciusko lift that ran from Thredbo to Charlotte Pass and that was going to bring a massive amount of tourism in, but technology wise it was before its time and the winds up on the hills, the bush walking and walking trails are so well used. They’re easily maintained. They’re costly to put in, but once they’re installed, the amount of people that take advantages of this, Michael, it’s just remarkable when you look at the amount of people. So, for example, the Hume and Hovell walking trail, we’ve been spending a few dollars on that in recent weeks and months as well and with tourism now pretty much grounded in the country we’re hearing a lot of good stories coming in saying that we’re really seeing an increase in tourism numbers for these operators, which is a great sign for regional Australia.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And this region, as Perin Davey often reminds me, my good Senator from New South Wales, she says this region – your particular region – it is one of the most outstanding adventure destinations in all of the state – in all of the country, indeed. There’s a lot of eco-tourists. There’s a lot of people seeking that adventure experience, whether it’s bush walking, trail bike riding, you know, getting on one of those mountain bikes and hiking through and going into those mountain streams and having a look. It’s fantastic. Camping, doing all those sorts of things. So, this will only enhance all of those activities.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It will and as you mentioned, it’s not just winter. I mean, Thredbo-Perisher have been tapping into that 24-hour, 7-day-a week, 365-day tourism for many, many years, ever since the days of the Snowy workers up there when they first pegged out that main trail there on Crackenback. And you look at what happens during the summer months, we have music festivals around Jindabyne and so forth. And this side of the mountains, we’re really starting to see it pick up. Look at Tumbarumba to Rosewood and that rail trail and the amount of people that have been through there. Wonderful for local business and these are the boosts we need. We’ve been talking a lot about timber and I know the newspapers have been featuring the timber industry. Very nervous feet around the region at the moment, Minister.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, I appreciate that very much and the thing too, is that with international borders still closed and no sign in sight of when that might reopen of course, COVID is still raging. The pandemic is still raging right around the world and so, people are going to need to holiday at home. They are going to be looking for these unique experiences and ticking off bucket lists and this is going to be an important part of that mix.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It certainly will and we’ve talked water storage. We’ve got Blowering and of course, Lake Jindabyne, we mentioned that. But the real destinations, like Blowering, we see people – and you know from your days in Wagga Wagga as editor – every couple of weeks there’d be something around Blowering Dam, whether it was [Inaudible] dragging his big boat up here or camping up there at Talbingo. We’ve got holiday people who travel in from Canberra.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I’m old enough to remember Ken Warby, you know and those great iconic days when the water speed record was attempted to be broken and then broken. You know, they were amazing days and they really put those sorts of places on the map, didn’t they?

DAVID EISENHAUER

They sure did. Its economic recovery and we’re seeing that well around our region as time goes on. I mean, the timber thing will always be an issue for us here as we get close to the last of those burnt trees coming in. That’s a concern and that’s something that we’ll be talking about over time over the coming weeks and months.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Indeed and that’s why State and Federal Governments have both got assistance programs for the timber industry. I mean, timber, it props up and helps and supports and enables 70 per cent of the gross domestic product within the Tumut-Snowy Valley Shire and it’s so important for Tumbarumba, so important for Batlow and all those areas.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Now, very busy day for you because the Acting Prime Minister’s job is not one to sit about. That is for sure but thoughts on the Blues and the Maroons last night.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it was a great result. And I tell you what –

DAVID EISENHAUER

For New South Wales it was.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They put Queensland to the sword very early and to win in that magnitude in Townsville takes a big effort and you only had to look at Nathan Cleary and the injury he sustained, but he came back out. I tell you what, he didn’t miss with those around-the-corner goal kicks and just to lead the pack around and to set the backs alight, he did a great job and they’re going to be hard to beat in the second game but, of course, Queensland will come back. They always do.

DAVID EISENHAUER

They always do.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And it’s always a thrilling series and speaking of the Blues, more closer to home, the Tumut Blues are going well. They’re top of Group 9 and they’re travelling very nicely. They are sitting snugly there top of the ladder. I’ll tell you what, them and Gundagai, they’re really going to take some beating again this year.

DAVID EISENHAUER

They certainly are. But 50 points to six!

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, a record margin.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It is.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Let’s not get too excited, because the Queensland spirit is something to behold.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Oh, yes.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I’m not sure whether you’ve ever been to a State of Origin at Lang Park, but it is an experience to watch, Queenslanders just change their demeanour completely when their team runs out and when the Blues run out, I tell you what, it’s a cauldron of seething, boiling, foaming hatred. But it’s great to have that passion between the States as long as it doesn’t bubble over into, you know, something we don’t want to see on the field. I know that rugby league is taking every step to clean up the game and to make sure that head knocks are addressed and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. All the mums and dads out there for their little Johnnys and Marys too, who play the game, of course, these days. They want their kids to be playing football in a safe environment and I commend Peter V’landys for what he’s doing to make sure that those head knocks are addressed and people don’t suffer the concussion that, you know, later in life and have effects from it.

DAVID EISENHAUER

That’s right and of course, it’s wonderful, these active sports, you see mums and dads and the little kids, such a big part of our rural and regional communities, these sporting activities and particularly when we talk Group 9 in our local region.

Minister, you’ve got $10 million to announce today. It’s an exciting day there and of course, we desperately need these water storages. They’re so critical for the future. We’re living in the driest continent around. It’s hard to see that at the moment with the amount of rain that we’ve had, but these don’t happen every day, that’s for sure.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They do not and very much looking forward to that. It’s a good announcement and we will talk again very shortly.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Indeed. Really appreciate your time, taking time out of a very busy schedule. Michael McCormack, thank you for your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good on you, Dave. All the best.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And of course, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack joining us there. We regularly catch up and have just a quick chat about what the Deputy PM’s up to.

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