Transcript - Interview on Triple M Riverina

8:13AM

LEIGH RYAN

A very good morning to Member for the Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. Hello.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, Leigh and my favourite announcer, Poppy.

POPPY PENNY

And it’s my favourite Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. What a coincidence.

LEIGH RYAN

I can be deputy favourite announcer.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

You can. That’s a good title.

POPPY PENNY

Yes, sure. You can have that. That’s fine. Michael, it’s been a really big week with the Budget being handed down. When will we have some more details about some of the things that were announced in the budget?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, people can get them now. And they can go to australia.gov.au, they can go to any number of websites by a quick Google search. But rest assured, when people do they’ll find that there’s tax cuts. When people do they’ll find that there is that small business investment write off so that any business – just about anyone in the Riverina, not too many businesses have a turnover $5 billion – can write down any capital investment in the year that they purchase. So, a trucking company, for instance, could actually just write off an entire new fleet, could just buy all new trucks and just write them off. They don’t have to go on that long depreciation schedule. A farmer could get a new harvester. A coffee shop could get all new barista equipment, you know, an all-new kitchen, write it off in the year of investment. Don’t have to go down that long depreciation scale. So that’s great news. Of course, it’s a jobs creation budget because we’ve got so many jobs in infrastructure. We need to get people through COVID-19. That’s what the budget was designed to do. Yes, there’s a lot of spending in it, but what we want to do is make sure that businesses are paying minimal tax, taxpayers are paying minimal tax, but we do it by generating work, by generating economic activity in the regions, through infrastructure, more roads. I know Wagga Wagga City Council’s getting, with the combined total with the mid-year top up of $5.1 million extra over and above what they would otherwise receive from the Federal Government just for roads. And it’s not just about the roads, it’s about the little coffee shop down the road that sells the egg and bacon rolls to the workers on site.

LEIGH RYAN

Mate, very quickly, I had a look at some of the forecasts. How confident are you and how confident is the Government in the forecasts for income and revenue growth in terms of Australian growth, the COVID vaccine, the borders opening up? Because there were – it’s obviously hard to predict what’s going to happen after such a volatile year.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Look, it is. And it’s predicated on mineral prices and they were very conservative estimates for iron ore et cetera for predicating and making those assumptions for the budget. Of course, yes, there’s a lot of hope that we get that vaccine. But we know that it’s in the late development stages. We know how hard Australian universities and the best medical experts in our nation are working towards a vaccine. And that’s a global-wide search and it’s global-wide research going into making sure that as soon as the vaccine becomes available and it’s had the proper human trials then it will be accessible for Australians free of charge and that’s so important. Of course, the budget is predicated on COVID rates being low. We need to make sure that these borders reopen. I see Queensland again has shut the borders to New South Wales because whilst they’ve had many, many days of non-locally acquired cases all of a sudden because there’s been a few cases, then all of a sudden Queensland decides to close their borders. Now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, so if they want to have that carry on, I mean, they may not open the borders to New South Wales for, well, you could argue months if not years, if they’re going to have that sort of restriction. So that’s very, very difficult. We know that New South Wales people, particularly northern New South Wales – and I realise they have provided a bit of a bubble there – but we need to be able to move interstate. It’s just not good enough that Premiers continue to close borders to suit their political ends.

POPPY PENNY

Last night we saw Anthony Albanese hand down their sort of budget response. There was some strong criticism around the renewable energy targets. Do you have any thoughts on whether the Federal Government’s looking to commit to an emissions target or a goal in that response? Because obviously the state –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We’re meeting our international obligations, Poppy, and we’ll go on doing that. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to shut down farms and factories and businesses and make it unaffordable for households by setting unrealistic targets off into the 2050s that, quite frankly, are not even predicated on having enough energy. We need to be able to continue to have our coal- fired power stations because they’re providing two-thirds of our Australian energy needs and more than $60 billion in exports. So, I appreciate that some people would say because they’re a long way away and they can’t see them but they say, “Well, it’s causing emissions and they should be shut down.” Well, what are we going to replace those with? How are we going to get the solar panels and 100 per cent renewables? I mean, that might be the Greens’ way, it’s not the sensible way. It’s not the practical way in 2020 to just shut down all our coal-fired and gas-fired power stations and say, well, that’s going to then provide the energy needs of the here and now and the immediate future. And so whilst we’ve got a big investment in renewables we can’t just go shutting down our energy power stations and then hope for the best.

LEIGH RYAN

Mate, very quickly, as well just on the budget reply speech, one of the big ones was child care, it was one of the touch points that Anthony Albanese brought up yesterday with a large investment in that. What are your thoughts on that plan?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, he said he was going to investigate it. I mean, fantastic. I mean, there’s Inspector Clouseau, here we’ve got Inspector No Cluedo! I mean we are already investing $9 billion in Child Care Subsidy payments. I mean, he’s going to investigate what they might do in the event that they might get elected in the future, about child care. We’re actually getting on with the job. We’re in government and we’re getting on with the job. There’s $9 billion in Child Care Subsidy and we’re making sure that families are looked after in that regard.

LEIGH RYAN

Also through Parliament I saw that the model for university funding has gone through. Can you tell us what that means for students, for people who are looking at going into university over the next year or so?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, what it means is that the Job Ready Graduates Package funding clusters are going to be amended to align social work and other mental health disciplines with allied health in what’s called the Commonwealth Grants Scheme. So what that means – and know there was a bit of fuss around the local area and perhaps some might say rightly so – we’re looking after those people who want to study social work, mental health, psychology. We’re making sure that the funding for the Jobs Ready Package is very positive news for the bush. So with an additional $400 million in funding and faster domestic student places growth for regional universities. So The Nationals in government have made sure that those provisions for regional universities, including Charles Sturt University are very much looked after.

POPPY PENNY

When can we expect that to come into play? Will it come into play from the start of the next studying year?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Very, very soon. Budget measures are generally either if not the start of the next calendar year or they’re put in place straight away. Because this year’s budgets was of course, delayed from May to October. So many of the measures such as the capital investment write down for small businesses and business generally was from the night of the budget. So many of the measures, provided that the budget of course passes the Parliament in its full form, are put in place either from Budget Day or indeed, generally the 1st of January the following year.

LEIGH RYAN

Now possibly the most important question that we’re going to ask you today – of course, the footy finals are on, both NRL and AFL. Mate, which way are you leaning for the premiers and who are you supporting through the final parts of the finals?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I’ve still got Parramatta in play in the NRL.

LEIGH RYAN

Yeah, but after this week.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I must admit, the opposition leader did have a bit of a taunt at me just before and we’ve got a little side bet on the fact that his beloved Rabbitohs, so he reckons they’ll win it. And I’m still confident or hopeful that Parramatta might just get there. But in the AFL, isn’t it a marvellous contest this weekend between Richmond and St Kilda. They haven’t, as I understand, played in a final since the 70s. I mean, these are two proud clubs. Now Melissa Irvine, who’s worked with me for probably more years than she cares to remember – when I was at the paper and now in my electorate office – if I say that St Kilda are not going to win I’ll be in trouble, so let’s hope the Saints get up over Richmond. I’ve just disenfranchised every Tiger supporter in the Riverina. And Geelong and Collingwood, well what a great contest that will be and I’ll just say, may the best team win.

LEIGH RYAN

Very political answer there.

POPPY PENNY

Very diplomatic. It’s good to see that even footy won’t cross the party lines – that the two of you are

still opposed, even in the NRL. Now, Michael McCormack, Member for the Riverina and Deputy

Prime Minister, thank you so much for your time this morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thanks, Poppy. Thanks, Leigh.

ENDS 8:22AM

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