Transcript - Sounds of the Mountains Radio Interview

7:24AM

DAVID EISENHAUER

A quick chat with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who joins us on the line. Minister, a very good morning.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, David.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Thank you for finding time to have a chat to us today, Michael. What a busy day. I know you've got another appointment at 7.30am but I thought we haven't chatted for a while. Thank you.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

No, it's a pleasure.

DAVID EISENHAUER

A nice day?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It is a nice day and there's a bit happening around the area and of course, Tumut and Tumbarumba and Batlow and all of those wonderful areas you represent are going to, of course, benefit from that Regional Recovery Partnership, $10 million or thereabouts as part of the Budget. And I know that Mark Coulton was in your beautiful part of the world yesterday talking about our new healthcare model which I know has been very much supported by the NSW Rural Doctors Network. I see that Dr Mike Edwards was out very much supporting it. We've done it in collaboration with them and what the aim of it is to do is to, of course, get better Primary Health Care outcomes for patients in the bush. And you and I know and every one of your listeners knows that sometimes it is difficult to access a doctor and sometimes it is difficult to get that immediate care without having to travel. So what this collaborative care approach is going to do is to investigate if viable practices may be better sustained by having a team of general practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals deliver integrated health services to smaller connected communities. And of course, you've got a number of those smaller connected communities in your wonderful listening area.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Look, it's interesting, when we talked to Minister Coulton yesterday, one of the things we were talking about is having these GPs that are coming in to have various skills, not just a general practitioner but maybe an anaesthetist or something along those lines and bringing those services in this particular region. We had a good chat for, you know, 15, 20 minutes. It was very interesting. With our medical services, the brand new hospital that's going in at the moment and decentralising, people saying, “I don't want to live in the city anymore.” It's something you and I have spoken about. "I'm moving to the bush because they've got great medical facilities, they've got these fantastic doctors." And another issue we talked about is communications and better communications. As he mentioned yesterday, launching Round 5 of the Mobile Black Spot Program in our local region.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, he wanted to get up there and launch it there because he understands full well just the difficulties faced, particularly during the bushfire season last year and coming into the next bushfire season. And Mark is, of course, a regional member himself and he understands just how important having better and good mobile communications are. It's just critical, not only to their business but of course, to make those emergency calls if required. And his electorate is just massive. It's about twice the size of Victoria and it's a large electorate he represents – the electorate of Parkes – but he understands the difficulties faced by people in the Snowy Mountains and elsewhere around the bush. But we've invested hundreds of millions of dollars into better communications towers and more mobile service and it is working.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And it's certainly needed. I mean, as we see more – and I know we spoke to Abb McAlister yesterday and of course, you know Abb from Gundagai –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

The Cootamundra Gundagai Mayor, a good man.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And we've talked about this same issue about people moving out to the region. We're seeing that happen in not as great a numbers as we'd like just yet but it's beginning to happen. People are thinking I can –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

The amount of inquiry, particularly Snowy 2.0 comes more online, the amount of inquiries that I know Tumut real estate agents are going to be receiving and already are receiving. But elsewhere, Albury, Wodonga, Wagga Wagga. I'm told that these virus escapees, as they are being called by Bernard Salt, the renowned demographer, they want to get out of the city because they're sick of congestion but they're also sick of being in lockdown. And of course, we see Adelaide now in lockdown with the 22 cases of COVID-19 there. We all get these outbreaks. There's no question we will with global pandemic and as travellers return home from overseas and sometimes there are little flaws in the quarantine system. But we are going to get those outbreaks and so long as we deal with them quickly and early and in a robust fashion, as South Australia has done, as Premier Steven Marshall's Public Health Unit there has done, we will get on top of it. But we are going to see these outbreaks until we get a vaccine and everybody takes advantage of that.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And look, that's not that far away. We see some positive news coming through there. People need to remember that the COVID-19 rules and regulations are certainly in force for some time to come. And it's interesting to see so many locals, businesses, community groups have all adopted those practices quite willingly, Michael.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They have and that's why they've been able to continue to stay open for business. That's why they've been able to continue to employ people through the JobKeeper scheme that we've provided but also regional Australians in particular have been their best selves and I say again with gratitude and thank you for doing just that.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Michael, final question today because I know time is of the essence there. We always ask the question how the Inland Rail is travelling along. We're seeing lots of updates coming through. But that's a terrific project.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Narrabri to North Star is just about to start. The Narromine to Parkes section has been completed. 99 local businesses benefit to the tune of $110 million and we are continuing this. I know there has been announcements in the Budget around Wagga Wagga from the State Government, the State Budget, $20 million for that Special Activation Precinct there. So the State Government is getting on-board as well. So it's full steam ahead but it's not going to be steam, of course. That went away a long time ago when they were first discussing Inland Rail. But we're getting on and we're building it.

DAVID EISENHAUER

And of course, a Christmas visit from the Deputy Prime Minister?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, certainly, I will be popping up there, hopefully before Christmas and might even pop into the studio and bring something with me, maybe a cup of coffee. Maybe my generosity might extend to that, David.

DAVID EISENHAUER

As long as you're wearing blue. That's all that matters after last night's effort.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Oh dear, yes, anyway, it was a cracking game.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It was, wasn't it?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It was a great game of rugby league. That rugby league is the best in the world, the State of Origin, well, good luck to Queensland. They scored more points than we did and well done to them.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Absolutely.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

As much as it hurts me to say.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Yes, look, there's a lot of very proud Queensland supporters around the region, I can tell this morning and a lot of sad New South Wales. But, look, it was a good game.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Tedesco would be feeling very sore and sorry this morning. That was a pretty big hit he got. But anyway, that's football, that's rugby league.

DAVID EISENHAUER

It is.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And of course, you've got the pride of Group 9 there, even though they weren't quite successful this year but there's always 2021.

DAVID EISENHAUER

There is and of course, we've got the wonderful Tigers down there celebrating probably, still.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Probably still celebrating. Thanks, David.

DAVID EISENHAUER

Michael, thank you very much for your time.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

All the best.

ENDS 7:31AM

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