Transcript - Triple M Riverina

POPPY PENNY

We are now joined by our very favourite Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Michael McCormack, good morning.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

Good morning Poppy, you sound up and alive and you’ve probably been up for several hours like I have.

POPPY PENNY

I've had two coffees so I am bouncing off the walls.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

I’m on my second at the moment I've got to tell you.

LEIGH RYAN

We're not here to talk about coffee though, because we are here to talk about an amazing amount of funding that is coming through for local government. I'll let you do the honours with this announcement.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

Indeed, thanks Leigh. So this morning, I've announced $500 million for the 537 councils across Australia to fix up local roads, to build local community infrastructure. The decisions will be taken and made at a local level. For the Riverina electorate, this means a $13.8 million cash splash stimulus to boost local jobs, to boost local procurement. For Wagga Wagga local government area that's more than $2 million. And for Junee, it's more than $500,000. It’s nearly $600,000. Temora, $825,000. So it's based on their Roads to Recovery funding. So we’re going to ensure that they get this money as part of the $100 billion infrastructure roll out that we're doing across the nation over the next decade but we're giving it to them now. The cash will be in their accounts on July 1, they have to spend it within 12 months. We want to see high-vis workers on the ground. We want to see bulldozers pushing dirt around. We want to see that local procurement. That will be one of the criteria for this money, for this stimulus and it's going to make such a difference as we come out of COVID-19.

POPPY PENNY

So why the decision to give the funding now?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

Because we need people in work. We need local procurement, small and medium enterprises around Wagga Wagga, around the Riverina district and around regional Australia need this money now because we need to get back on our feet and the best way to do it is at a local level. It's got to be a local-led recovery, Leigh and Poppy, it can't be a Canberra-led recovery. I’ve always said that, I want to see those local shopkeepers benefit from this and this is the way that I thought we could best do it.

LEIGH RYAN

You mentioned the $500 million for the Council's but there's a further $1.3 billion in Financial Assistance Grants, can you tell us a bit about those?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

So each year, the Commonwealth distributes what's called Financial Assistance Grants. So they’re brought forward, that’s what we’re doing this time. So $1.3 billion of Financial Assistance Grants are being brought forward, so that councils can have access to that capital now. So there's going to be a lot of money for councils and we want councils to put those projects forward to get those road projects happening. Yes, we have a lot of potholes and we’ve got a lot of maintenance. We've got a lot of roads that need bitumen and so I think this will be such a stimulus, for Wagga Wagga, for all the areas that I represent, indeed, every one of the 537 local government areas across Australia are going to benefit from this.

POPPY PENNY

Speaking of good news, speaking of benefits, the footy is back! We’ve got the NRL coming back in six days now and the AFL back on June 11. This is exciting because local sports are coming back too.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

Well, I know it’s important for Group 9, the Farrer and Riverina Football League, Hume League, indeed, our netball and league-tag, hockey, all those sports. Soccer, I know Football Wagga wants to get back on the park as quick as they can. And so, you know, training in groups of ten, they can have three lots of groups of ten training on the oval. So, I'm sure that footy players and netballers are going to be back in action on the training track from next week. You see individuals out running and they've been, you know, sweating it up over the recent weeks to keep trim to get – well, they can’t be match fit – but at least they can be fit for the return. Hopefully, the return can be sometime in June maybe or at least July. Interesting, as I did a little bit of research on Arthur Summons the other day, the first time he coached Wagga Magpies to a Grand Final win back in 1965, they played the Grand Final at Narrandera on October 10. So that's not to say that we haven't done this before, that we haven't had delayed seasons before. I appreciate that there were a few draws, there were reasons why they had such a delayed finish to the competition back in 1965, but it has been done before and hopefully we can do it this year, of course, due to different reasons – the pandemic of course.

LEIGH RYAN

Yeah, I know that Wagga Hockey is looking at a shortened season and I think that we will get a lot more details on the other competitions over the coming weeks. Michael, we are doing at the moment on Triple M, the greatest of all time – asking people to nominate the greatest artist of all time or what their greatest song is, for you, who would be the greatest artist of all time?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK

Well, I like the King of Rock’n’Roll Elvis Presley and not just because Parkes, which is in my electorate and in the Riverina electorate, has the annual Elvis Festival which draws 25,000 people to that wonderful little central-western town. I do like Elvis, my mother used to play incessantly on the cassettes as I grew up. I am almost embarrassed to admit she played him and Kamahl as well. I met Kamahl, he's a great fellow but, you know, those songs resonate in your head when one of your parents plays them over and over. But, I do like Elvis. I have performed Suspicious Minds in front of 10,000 people who cheer the whole way through but I think they were cheering for the fact that it was about to end soon. But, I don’t always think that I’m caught in a trap, there is no way out etc. I do like Suspicious Minds, I’m always happy to get up and sing it, it is my go to song.

POPPY PENNY

Well, since you are always happy to get up and sing it, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, we’re going to set this one up and let you play us out.

[Suspicious Minds plays]

LEIGH RYAN

As nominated by our Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, as his greatest artist of all time and his favourite song. And in all seriousness, some great announcements there.

POPPY PENNY

Fantastic news for the regions, particularly our region. It’s fantastic having someone like Michael McCormack looking out for the regions in the position he’s in. I think that it does good things and as a result we get good funding like this.

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