2EC - Regional grants and Climate Change

2EC - Regional grants and Climate Change Main Image

20 October 2021


RADIO INTERVIEW – 2EC with Bertie Fagan  

Tuesday 19 October 2021

SUBJECT: Regional grant funding and climate change



FAGAN: Now I promised you I would get Kristy McBain and I have managed to track her down. We've got the Member for Eden-Monaro on the phone. Good morning, Kristy.

MCBAIN: Good morning. How are you?

FAGAN: Good. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for giving me some time. I understand you're busy.

MCBAIN: You’re right. You caught me in between votes in Parliament House. So I'm good to go.

FAGAN:  Oh, what are you voting on this morning?

MCBAIN: This morning, we've just done the three year anniversary of the apology to child abuse survivors. Obviously, last night, there were a lot of divisions about whether to refer Christian Porter blind trust, to the privileges Committee. The Speaker of the House, which is obviously a Liberal Speaker of the House said that there was a prima facie case for that matter to be referred to the privileges committee. And for the first time since Federation, the government has voted against that precedence motion from the speaker. So there were a lot of votes on that last night.

FAGAN: You guys sounds like you've been very busy. Let's talk about this, that came to my attention yesterday that up to 55% of so called regional grants actually not going to the region's at all, they're going to the cities. Can you tell me more about that?

MCBAIN: Yeah, look, this was an analysis done by the Australian National Audit Office, which showed that about 50 plus percent of grants, over three and a half 1000 different projects have been funded in the capital cities instead of the regions. And when funding is earmarked for the regions we want to save spent in the regions. You know, we're all familiar with the $10 million that went to the North Sydney pool as a regional facility with the with the tagline, that regional people swim there. And that was part of actually a closed non-competitive grant process, which was even more shocking. And then you've obviously got the Bega War Memorial Pool, which had applied for funding and was knocked back in the last round of the building better regions fund and, you know, I for sure know that the bigger pool, which is, you know, close to what's probably over 60 years old now, is in desperate need of refurbishment, as opposed to the North Sydney pool.

FAGAN: Absolutely. That does sound, on the face of it, you know, North Sydney is not a regional area, to say the very least and $10 million is a lot that went there. Kristy I would also like to talk to you this morning about the Glasgow climate talks that are just days away? What's happening on the federal level there?

MCBAIN: Look the government has been in power for eight years. And, you know, it's all coming down to the last few days before the Glasgow climate summit kicks off. As to what policy the government takes there have been, I think, eight different energy Ministers, 21 different energy policies, we still don't have a settled position for this important conference coming up. I think Australia wants some certainty. Every state and territory in the country has committed to net zero by 2050. The Australian Business Council is committed to it, the National Farmers Federation has committed to it. You've got organisations like BHP and Rio Tinto, who are putting billions of dollars into converting some of their plants to have a 50% carbon reduction by the end of the decade. So there are a lot of businesses and industries and states and territories that want to carve out a path, because we know we need to and the federal government is dragging their heels on it. I think we risk missing the investment that could come into this country as we transition to new industries. And obviously, as I said, here we are at the 11th hour trying to figure out whether we actually have a position as an Australian Government to take to Glasgow and those talks are still ongoing between obviously the Nationals and the Liberal Party.

FAGAN: It seems to me and I could be wrong, but it seems to me the National Party are trying to say well, the regional areas they're not interested. What they're saying is the reason why they're delaying committing to it. But it seems that the regions could benefit from a transformation to renewable energy.

MCBAIN: Yeah, and it was made clear in the house the other day that the Government has modelling on the impacts to the economy of net zero by 2050. And the impacts to some of our regions, but that has not been shared. The modelling done by the BCA, the Business Council of Australia shows that there'll be a benefit to regions. If we adopt a net zero by 2050. policy. You know, it'd be great to actually see the modelling and understand what the government is looking at. And we haven't been given that at this point in time. But I think all of us want to see some certainty. You know, we as individuals, and as I said in industry and business groups, there's investment, which usually comes in from overseas capital as part of how we fund our economy. And we are we are looking like, we will be left behind because overseas markets don't want to invest, where there's no clear targets or, or no clear path, especially in this energy space.

FAGAN: Now Kristy does Labor have an official policy now that we can contrast as opposed to what the government is saying now?

MCBAIN: So Labor has committed to net zero by 2050. We are also sending two representatives over to the Glasgow conference. And we will make clear our targets as we head to the next election.

FAGAN: Okay. And finally, I would just like to talk to you about COVID. Hopefully, the days of having to ask people like yourself about COVID will over but not quite yet. So the border bubbles are opening up between the ACT in New South Wales and Victoria and New South Wales. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

MCBAIN: Yeah, look, we've done a lot of work with the ACT government. And right now the entire electorate of Eden-Monaro is in a border bubble with the ACT which is fantastic. For us. It's a seamless Capital Region and we know that we're reliant on the ACT for work, for education, for medical appointments, and so there is no longer a requirement for us to apply to come into the ACT. There's no requirement for us to quarantine or stay at home after we've been to the ACT, which is a fantastic outcome for the entire region. The Victorian border bubble is in place and our border LGAs of Bega Valley, Snowy Monaro and Snowy Valleys are all considered green zones. And we can travel into Victoria from here and there's no requirement for us to follow stay at home orders. However, New South Wales still has some requirements in places. If you go outside the border bubble is designated but the New South Wales Government and there is a line drawn on the map to enter Victoria than we are required to do the 14 days stay at home on our return and we do have to fill out a declaration. Now I'm hoping that we will see a change to that given that Victoria has now reached their 70% double dose vaccination goal today and hopefully we'll see some more easing of restrictions for our border communities. You know we are pretty heavily reliant on Victorian tourists coming into our region and I hope as we head towards Summer we will see a much more freely moving region and hopefully a lot more people coming back in to stay to eat and to spend their money in our region.

FAGAN: I think we all share the same sentiment there Kristy. But just finally I hear you’re a Canberra Raiders supporter and even blew the horn at a game.

MCBAIN: That's right. First game of the year at Canberra Stadium and I was lucky enough to be one of those Viking ambassadors and blow the horn. I don't know whether perhaps I’d Jinx the Raiders for the rest of the season but that definitely was not the season we had anticipated. So hopefully 2022 we'll be able to actually make finals and back into the grand final and hopefully take one time.

FAGAN: Too right. Go the Raiders. Kristy, thank you so much for your time this morning.

MCBAIN: Thank you.