Transcript - Interview Triple M Riverina

POPPY PENNY

We are joined this morning by a very, very important man who is very, very busy but takes a little bit of time out of his schedule to speak to us. Mr Michael McCormack, good morning. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

Good morning, Poppy, no more important than anyone else and no more important than any of your listeners. 

POPPY PENNY

A man of the people. The Deputy Prime Minister but a man of the people. We like that about you. 

LEIGH RYAN

Great catching up this morning and great to see through the week, a good funding announcement that's going to help out our local region, particularly around the timber industry, the apple growers and for vineyards around our region are going to benefit from this. Do you want to give us some more details about that? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

Yes Leigh, it is a package of $86 million and importantly it is going to have grants up to $10,000 for those wine grape producers who experience crop loss because of smoke taint and many, many producers have that problem. Also, $10 million for the establishment of storage facilities for processed timber products and we know that so many trees, which then become logs, which then become furniture, become trusses for houses etc, were fire affected and so that's a good thing, particularly for Tumbarumba, Batlow, Tumut, which relies so heavily on the timber industry and indeed there's grants there for apple producers and we know that the Red Delicious, famous from Batlow, there's $31 million in funds for grants of up to $120,000 per hectare for bushfire-impacted apple growers. I know for Greg Mouat, and Ian Cathels, and Barney Hyams and others up in the Batlow area that will be very welcome news because they were badly, badly affected and of course it takes some years to grow back an apple orchard once a fire has swept through it. 

POPPY PENNY

Yes, it's really important for these local growers and as a wine lover, very happy to see vineyards getting a little bit of funding since they lost most of their 2020 crop. Also, there's some funding just recently been announced for the arts sector which has been hugely hit by what's happened with COVID-19. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

People don't realise but the arts industry, in fact, actually contributes about $112 billion to the economy each and every year. Of course there's 600,000 people engaged in the arts industry – arts and entertainment. So we've got a $250 million package today, including grants to help productions, to provide direct assistance to theatres and dance groups and musicians and other fields to get the show back on the road. So there's $35 million in direct assistance to those groups I just mentioned. 

POPPY PENNY

But also grants of up to $2 million for competitive grants, for new festivals, concerts, tours and events. I would encourage anybody who is in that sector to visit arts.gov.au to see if they are eligible to make sure that, you know, they can see what's available. If they have any trouble, just contact my office. But for the smoke-related log and wineries and those sort of things, they should go to nationalbushfirerecovery.gov.au. So, you know, if they've got logs, if they've got apple orchards, if they've got wineries that have been affected by fires, then that's the website for them to visit. 

LEIGH RYAN

Very quickly, is there any word on when theatres, like the Civic Theatre here and when the cinemas are going to reopen, when we're going to be able to go into there, even at reduced capacity? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

Good question. The National Cabinet sits again tomorrow so the Premiers will meet with the Prime Minister via videoconference tomorrow and I think there will probably be more announcements following that, but that is very much a remit of State Governments and of course with the outbreak happening in Victoria, that's I think, sent some nervous shivers down the spines of a few State Premiers and the Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy, has said all along that the border closures, that's very much matter for jurisdictions for the State Premiers to decide. 

But, you know, whether or not it is an issue regarding health is a matter for those jurisdictions but of course as Professor Murphy has said, download the COVIDSafe app and for those Victorians who are in those hot spot areas, they really should stay at home. They should go back to staying at home, working from home because otherwise we just don't want to see another outbreak. We don't want to see a second wave. We lost another person yesterday, sadly, that's 103. That's the first death since May 23rd, so the first death for a month, but you know, of the 7,500 cases of coronavirus in Australia, 6,900 have recovered and so the recovery rate has been very, very good. The record for our health in Australia has been the envy of the world and of course, with our triple A credit rating confirmed again yesterday and a story in today's papers that Australia's economy is as good as any in the world. Things aren't too bad. It could have been a lot, lot worse but we're not out of the woods yet. 

POPPY PENNY

You touched on Victoria there and the border closures. Have you had any communication with the New South Wales Government regarding those closures because that border is one of the few that's remained open throughout this entire thing? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

It is open. So you can drive from Albury to Wodonga, no worries at all, and I'm sure the Mayors, Kevin Mack and Anna Speedie, would want people to visit Albury-Wodonga. We want regional tourism but what we don't want to see is those people in the hot spot areas of Melbourne travelling outside their suburb and some of them would not know that they are perhaps infectious and some of the respiratory clinic and the testing clinics, indeed, in Melbourne were closed the other day because some of the workers had contracted it. And so those things are a bit of a worry and so for those hot spot areas, you know, they're probably areas where I understand the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian saying probably best not to go to those hot spot areas. But I say again, people just need to download the app, they need to exercise social distancing and largely, as they've thankfully done, just follow the sensible and practical cleanliness rules and all the things and we'll get through this. There's no drama. We will get through it but we just don't want to see a second wave. 

POPPY PENNY

Is testing on the border an option? Whilst not closing the border but testing between Victoria and New South Wales? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

Well, that would be a matter for the States but I have to say, having a look at the experience in the Tweed and the south-east of Queensland and this kilometre-long queue of cars – probably not something I would encourage and advise the States to do. I think there's enough respiratory clinics around the countryside and certainly Wagga Wagga was the first to have a respiratory clinic set up in a regional area in New South Wales and there's any number of these respiratory clinics and so people in Wagga Wagga who are getting those cough and cold symptoms, they should visit the Glenrock Practice Dr Shenouda runs at Glenfield Park and make sure that they get properly tested. There are plenty of those respiratory clinics, make an appointment, book ahead and just get that peace of mind. 

LEIGH RYAN

Michael, very quickly, I know you're a footy fan and if this continues in Victoria it jeopardises crowds at the AFL grand final. Which State do you reckon should get the AFL Grand Final; Sydney, South Australia, Adelaide, Perth? 

POPPY PENNY

I'll answer for you, give it to Perth. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

The MCG. You've got to play the AFL Grand Final at the MCG. It's almost a bit like, you know, the Riverina Football League the Grand Final probably every year should be played at Narrandera Sportsground. I know that will cause controversy because it has been played at Robertson Oval but it is just the atmosphere, it's the vibe, it's the, you know, the constitution as the say. There are some places for some things and I've got to say Narrandera is the home of the Riverina Football League Grand Final and the MCG, there's no better place on that last Saturday in September, but that's it, it's going to be in October or who knows when this year. 

LEIGH RYAN

A Christmas Eve Grand Final. 

POPPY PENNY

It really would be Christmas. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

Go the Hawks! 

LEIGH RYAN

Michael McCormack, thank you so much for joining us this morning, Deputy Prime Minister and Member for the Riverina. You have a wonderful day. 

MICHAEL McCORMACK 

We'll talk again soon. You too, bye. 

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