ABC CANBERRA – Federal election

ABC CANBERRA – Federal election Main Image

13 April 2022





ROSS SOLLY, PRESENTER: Have you had anything to laugh about yet Kristy McBain during this election campaign?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Anything to laugh about, that’s interesting. I try my hardest to look at the bright side of everyday life. So there's no point being hyper negative about everything. There's always a positive spin on everything I think.

SOLLY: Yes, and especially when you are running for election or re-election in your case, but first time, in fact, in a full federal election campaign, how are you feeling about it?

MCBAIN: Well as I said, I’m glass half full about the world. So I've put in a lot of hard work over the last 21 months. My electorate, obviously is one of the larger ones, it's 42,000km2. And in that 21 months, I've travelled over 90,000km in the car talking to people. So the election for me comes down to a lot more than just what happens over these six weeks, people should be having a look at what's happened over the last term of government, the last three years, and really have a think about the policies that are going to make a difference to people's lives. And the local representatives that they have in front of them.

SOLLY: Did you cringe a little bit the other day when your leader stuffed up the numbers, couldn't remember the numbers?

MCBAIN: No. To be perfectly honest, not one person that I speak to across my electorate, around 115,000 voters, no one person has ever said, the biggest issue for me is understanding employment numbers, or the cash rate of the Reserve Bank. They have real life issues to deal with. And I think that's what..

SOLLY: Aren’t unemployment numbers, though a real life issue if you're unemployed, you certainly can't get more real life than that?

MCBAIN: Well, I'll tell you across Eden-Monaro, I've got businesses who are crying out for employees. Businesses, where there's massive skill shortages that haven't been addressed by this government, we've got housing issues, so that people who are wanting to take up a job, can't actually take up a job because they can't find anywhere to rent and they can't afford a rental if they find one. Or they can't afford to buy a house. So, there are much bigger issues. And these gotcha questions really do a disservice to communities who actually want to know what policies are. If we want to talk about gotcha questions - the Prime Minister said that he delivered eight budgets four as Treasurer, and three as Prime Minister. And my kids know that four plus three equals seven, not eight. W could go on and on about all that stuff but people asking for real policy.

SOLLY: Take it from me, the ABC Morning Show is no fan of the gotcha question at all. And I shouldn't say that up in advance because you're probably sitting there, Kristy McBain waiting for me to throw you the gotcha question. But I'm not going to do it. But I do expect that candidates do have their finger on the pulse of what's happening in their electorate. And of course, you had incredible problems with bushfires. Is that still the big issue in parts of your electorate? Obviously, in the Snowy Mountains, that is not so much, but is that still a main talking point?

MCBAIN: A lot of people I speak to still want to focus on bushfire recovery. This electorate probably copped it worse than most across the country. There was a million hectares of land that was burnt. Over 1000 homes lost. We probably have around 10% of those homes rebuilt across the electorate. So they're still major concerns. But the thing that people talk to me about most, especially in the bushfire sense, was why weren't we listened to. There are a bunch of mitigation and resilience matters that were raised immediately after that natural disaster, many of which have not been acted upon. We had community members pouring their hearts out in a New South Wales Inquiry and the Royal Commission. And I must say that I think that the Northern Rivers floods and the southeast Queensland floods have really impacted people across this electorate again. They have said things like, why didn't we learn from the last time? We try to reinvent the recovery wheel every time in this country and people expect a settled model that's actually going to deal with people's issues when they arise, not a week or two after.

SOLLY: When you ran back in 2020 the by-election your your main opponent, the Liberal Party opponent was, was a sceptic. Whereas this time Jerry Nockles is quite publicly saying that climate change is real, we need to work. And I'll be talking to Jerry Nockles in just a moment. So that's taken that factor out of it and you just talked about the importance of the environment for your electorate. So he's not a target in that regard. So does that make it a little bit tougher for you this time around?

MCBAIN: I'm not ever focused on what my opponents are going to say or do. The things I can control in my campaign is how hard I work, how many people I talk to and addressing the issues that they're actually asking about. What someone else stands for is their issue and they've got to make sure that they convince that across the electorate. I'm focused on what I do. As I said, I've done a lot of kilometres across this place, making sure that after the last three years we've had in terms of droughts, bushfires, pandemic, and floods, that I'm talking individuals in business and industry, community groups. There’s a lot of people across this electorate that have been doing it tough and they want someone to listen, and they want someone to actually come up with ideas and policies. They want someone to connect them. They want someone that's there as a community builder willing to work with others to get things done.

SOLLY: All those miles you've spent driving around the electorate, I cannot imagine how many mobile phone black spots you've gone through. There seems to be more mobile phone black spots, in the electorate of Eden-Monaro than anywhere in the world. What are we going to do? I mean, is this an election issue? Is this something that did you can fix up if, if there's a Labor government?

MCBAIN: Yeah look, across this electorate, there are a ton of mobile phone black spots. It was highlighted during the bushfires where we had people driving on main highways who could no longer access up to date information because they were in black spots. My first election announcement after doing all those kilometres talking to people was about mobile phone black spots. Money for the Snowy Monaro Highway, the Monaro Highway, the Kings Highway and the Princes highway to deal with black spots along those main transport corridors. There was also money for specific towns and villages that had no access or very patchy access. And Labor's NBN announcement is again based on talking to people across the electorate, where during a pandemic really highlighted to them how far behind in infrastructure and service delivery, we are in parts of this country. So our NBN announcement actually gets fibre to the premises for 18,000 additional homes and small businesses across Eden-Monaro. We should expect in 2022 we have reliable phone and internet connection in a range of different areas. Yes, the topography is difficult in some parts of our electorate, but we're a smart innovative country and we should be trying to deal with the issues that affect people's everyday lives. Remaining connected to information on phone or internet is one of those key issues

SOLLY: It is something that people find very annoying I know that. Good to talk to you this morning Kristy McBain. I'm sure that as the election rolls on, given the importance of the seat of Eden-Monaro we'll be talking to you again but thank you for your time this morning.

MCBAIN: Lovely speaking to you.

SOLLY: That's Kristy McBain who is the Labor Member for Eden-Monaro.