ABC South East - Lockdown, GP Inquiry

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12 October 2021


RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East – Breakfast with Simon Lauder

Tuesday 12 October 2021

SUBJECT: ACT/ NSW border changes

 SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: New South Wales has relaxed rules for its residents who travel to the ACT for work, or medical care. The new exemption means people traveling to the ACT from the southeast, for work or for medical care no longer have to complete a declaration or follow stay at home rules after they return to New South Wales. But everyone else entering New South Wales after being in the ACT will still need to complete a declaration and follow the stay at home rules. While the rules around ACT and New South Wales border arrangements and with Victoria as well have been frustrating. And there's evidence of that from Kristy McBain, the Member for Eden-Monaro and the contact she's had at her office. Kristy McBain good morning.


LAUDER: Thank you so much for joining us. Do these tweaks that were announced overnight, remove the frustrations around borders?

MCBAIN: They are starting to give some clarity to people. Far too often, most people are trying to do the right thing, but actually can't get any clarity about what they're required to do. So this starts to give people some clarity, especially if they're traveling to the ACT for work or medical issues. The one outstanding one which we're still chasing up is school because we have a lot of New South Wales residents, especially in the Queanbeyan and Cooma and Yass areas whose kids go to school in the ACT so we're still chasing some clarification about school.

LAUDER: And what about Victoria? Are there more complications now that our region is out of lockdown?

MCBAIN: Yeah, and this has been the sticking point for some time.  Obviously there had been a lag with the ACT, the restriction start to lift from the 15th, which didn't match up with us and also in Victoria their restrictions start to change the next couple of weeks. So there hasn’t been any certainty around border issues. We have long been arguing that New South Wales needed to match Victoria in naming whole local government areas that would be exempt. At this point in time, we've got a line drawn on the Victorian side so we can only go 100 kilometres into Victoria. But Victoria have said that there are whole LGAs that their border bubble covers. So we are still trying to get some reciprocal rights on both sides. Because that at least makes it a certainty for people when they are traveling that the rules are the same on both sides of the border.

LAUDER: What do you think of the lockdown lifting this week and the new requirement for people who are going to cafes or out and about - need to prove that they're double vaccinated?

MCBAIN: Look, I was frustrated. And I'm sure there's a lot of other regional people that were frustrated with all the news coverage of Freedom Day. And whilst I understand that for the residents in Sydney and some of our other LGAs that meant some new things. But for some of us it actually meant more restrictions then we'd been dealing with before. So that had been a part that was missed in reporting -  was that in some areas, that actually means more restrictions than others. I think a lot of people will be grateful that they'll be able to move around more freely. And we know, in our regional areas, we usually do move around quite freely between different LGAs. And we are still reliant a lot on the ACT for medical and healthcare issues. So some certainty around those border things have been fantastic. And obviously, more certainty as we head towards the first of December, and people can get their lives back.

LAUDER: What are you hearing from local small businesses about having to be quick to reopen and whether they've got everything they need, including staff?

MCBAIN: Look, the small business owners, I think, have done it really, really tough over the last 20 months. They've had to change their whole business structures in some cases. And now they have to ask people to comply with rules that have been put in place from Sydney and a lot of the small business owners have been really concerned about the message that that sends to our local community. They’re also worried that they and their staff members will have to deal with some people that don't want to comply with the new restrictions. We've had a staffing issue for some time now, right across the region, and we know that housing plays no small part in that and we can see the price of housing going up. The low availability of rentals is really having an impact on trying to attract staff to the area.

LAUDER: Now since we last spoke, there's been a little bit going on in state politics, the Member for Bega Andrew Constance, announcing his quitting state politics, to try and get into federal parliament in the neighbouring seat of Gilmore and the Member for Monaro John Barilaro announcing that he's quitting politics altogether. So between now and May next year, we're going to have a federal election, we're going to have local government elections and two by-elections, are we at risk of getting election or democracy, fatigue, voter fatigue in Eden-Monaro?

MCBAIN: A little bit going on the state politics, that's an understatement. Couple of weeks ago, I would have thought that we had a Premier and Deputy Premier that probably would have been there for some time. So that old adage of a week is a long time in politics is certainly true. Look, there are a lot of people that get frustrated with having to deal with the political campaigns that they go on. And in 2019, we had a state and a Federal Campaign within a couple of months of each other. This time, we're obviously going to be having, as you said, council elections, the federal election and two state by-elections, probably within quick succession of each other. So I can sense already the political advertisements, fatigue of people, but stick in there because your vote does really count.

LAUDER: And from a logistical point of view, in terms of your campaigning, what does that do to your campaign, meaning that it's just going to be crowded around with some other political stuff?

MCBAIN: Oh, I will go about my campaign my way and I will try not to fatigue people with too much advertising. And just let my work speak for itself. I've been advocating for people right across the electorate and traveling extensively when we could. So Parliament gets back next week, and we'll get on with the job.

LAUDER: All right, a couple of other developments in federal politics, some changes making childcare cheaper being brought for forward for Australian families with two or more children under school age. So families with two or more children in care under six years old, will be able to receive an additional 30%. On top of the current subsidy. Does this solve a lot of issues for families in the south east, trying to have two working parents?

MCBAIN: Look, any help is appreciated to working families with kids in childcare. It wasn't long ago that the government said that there didn't need to be any changes made to the to the childcare regime. And now we are seeing changes being brought forward. In terms of whether the policy settings are right, I think that there definitely needs to be some changes. I mean, there are a lot of people that only have one child in childcare, who will still struggle. We know that Labor's policy helps out 75% more families than this one does. And it is a much expanded policy. But as I said anything at this stage will help. Childcare providers have been doing it really difficult over the last year during the pandemic. I think this regime actually makes it more complicated when they have to differentiate the subsidies between different families now.

LAUDER: And finally, Scott Morrison facing more pressure to attend COP 26. The Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next week, the latest pressure coming from none other than Prince Charles, do you think that will make a difference? Will our Prime Minister go?

MCBAIN: I'm not sure whether he will go. He's obviously got a battle in his own party room about trying to get a policy across the line. But I do think it's important that Australia fronts up today's international conferences, because we have a role to play along with every other country in the world in addressing the issue. But I think his major challenge is obviously going to be in his party room.

LAUDER: Great to talk to you this morning. Kristy McBain Thank you so much.

MCBAIN: Thank you.