ABC South East - Regional NSW lockdown, Afghanistan, Climate Change

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17 August 2021


RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East – Breakfast with Simon Lauder

Tuesday 17 August 2021

SUBJECT: ABC South East - Regional NSW lockdown, Afghanistan, Climate Change

SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: Now when it comes to federal politics this week, the issues our governments are grappling with are much bigger than any domestic political disputes. But that's not to say there's no room for debate. More than 250 Australian troops have been deployed to assist with a mission to evacuate Australians from Afghanistan. And the contentious idea of mandatory workplace vaccinations is gaining traction with unions and employer groups meeting this week to discuss it. But for the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain I suspect are the immediate concern at 10 minutes to eight on a Tuesday morning is home learning for the children as we get ready to face day three of lockdown. Kristy McBain Good morning.


LAUDER: Yes, you've got the kids at home, is it hard to get the right balance working from home learning as well?

MCBAIN: It sure is hard to get the right balance. And we're only day two of the school week. So I'll take solace in knowing we're not going to get everything perfect or right the first time. We had a go yesterday, and not everything went to plan. But today's a new day, and we'll see how it goes today.

LAUDER: Does it make you worry for people who don't necessarily have multiple devices or computers at home or even a single online connection?

MCBAIN: Yeah, look, we know it's really hard for some people who obviously don't have access to internet or to devices. And the lockdown happening, as it did on a Saturday afternoon meant that schools weren't really prepared with the technology loan system. So that's been hard, obviously. And for many people teaching others isn't their day job. And it's difficult for a lot of us. So hang in there, guys. Hopefully, kids will be back to school soon. As I said on, on Sunday, there's a lot that kids can be learning from us. And I think one of the critical ones is learning how to deal with uncertain periods and being out of routine and, modelling that behaviour where we don't want our kids to be stressed or worried. It’s another day and, it starts again, so let's see if we can do this. I'm better than yesterday.

LAUDER: Yeah, look, I agree. The main thing seems to be to remain calm and keep those anxiety levels, but there is I guess, understandably, a lot of anxiety in the business community as well with the lockdown. What are your concerns about any people that might be falling through the gaps? Are we going to see some business closures in the South East?

MCBAIN: I've been speaking to businesses a lot over the last few weeks and Chambers of Commerce in particular, over the last couple of weeks. Our businesses have been doing a really tough right across Eden-Monaro. Last year, the snow was at 50% capacity. And this year with the Sydney lockdown and a Victorian border closure there at about a quarter of their normal. We've lost two summers now on the coast. And we're heading into obviously, what will be quite an uncertain period as we head towards the September school holidays with whale season and more onto the summer school holidays. The one thing I've been highlighting in Parliament now for a period of time is that there are multiple issues that are affecting businesses across our region. It's not the result of a one lockdown or one border closure. It's the result of multiple disasters that have happened concurrently. And the compounding effect on business is huge. We want to make sure that people are being looked after and that's why I've been listening to business groups about what it is that they need. Proactively I think the Federal Government could be looking at PAYG deferrals again to make that cash flow side of things easier for business.

LAUDER: What about JobKeeper? Is that the answer for this run of the outbreak? Should that be reintroduced? Or do you think that this state government’s grants for businesses cover that need at the moment?

MCBAIN: It's pleasing to save the JobSaver payments have been rectified somewhat because initially, a lot of our local businesses weren't eligible to apply. So that's fantastic. The New South Wales state government was responsive to those concerns from businesses which is fantastic. I think the hard thing is that people were used to the JobKeeper system. Whilst not perfect there was always scope to amend some of the requirements because Parliament had been sitting. And now, businesses are kind of left without that system. And in towns and villages, right across Eden-Monaro most of our businesses are small businesses, there are people who employ between one and five or one in 10 people. So we want to make it as easy as possible for people. And I just think every time there has been a lockdown, we look at something different. We give it a funky new name and get on with it. So I think we can understand why people are frustrated that these things have changed. And it would have been a simpler system just to have JobKeeper able to be reinstated.

LAUDER: It's horrifying to see what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment. And now, Australia is sending out 250 troops to assist with the evacuation of Australians from Afghanistan, what are your reflections on what's happening there?

MCBAIN: Yet, it's obviously a really sad and scary time for a lot of people and it’s an unfolding security and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. We no doubt have a lot of Australian Afghans here, who are fearful for their friends and families safety. We've got Afghan staff that assisted in the 20-year military deployment, who are there. And obviously, our veterans at this point in time will be, I guess, really worried about those people that helped us during that time. So, look, it's horrible to see what's happening. I'm glad that the government is now acting and getting assistance over there to try to get out some of our people. But we know that there are still hundreds of people who have a visa applications that haven't been finalized. We've had some applications which have been rejected, even when they have assisted us. So I think that the Morrison-Joyce government really needs to step up their action on this. Because, as I said, we have a lot of people over there that have helped Australia over the last 20 years of our deployment. And they have put their families’ safety, secondary to our deployment needs, and we need to return the favour and make sure that we are assisting them in any way possible right now.

LAUDER: And I have to ask you, as well about the UN's call last week, a code red for the planet, the IPCC report finding we're not likely to meet that 1.5 degree global warming goal and two degrees. What should the government's response to this be? What would like Labor's response be in government?

MCBAIN: I think that the thing that everyone's crying out for is some type of action. You know, enough of the climate wars, we've had 10 years of that. Before 2010, people largely agreed that we had to do more to look after our planet. And since then, we've created this war of believing some people and not believing others, even though the scientific evidence all points to this issue. I think action is needed, and it's not good enough to set ourselves a target in 2050, although I note that the government still hasn't set that target and then start acting in 2048. It's time to actually get on and do something. Our region has seen catastrophic disasters over the last few years. We're all crying out for mitigation and resilience measures, we're all crying out for some action because we're seeing the impacts of it. So it's time to get on with it and start doing something.

LAUDER: Kristy McBain - Thank you very much. What's your go to when you want to lift the mood with music at home?

MCBAIN: If I if I'm leaving Parliament House and I've had a particularly trying day, I love a bit of 60 soul music. So ‘Ain't no mountain high enough’ Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

LAUDER: Alright, we'll put that on the list. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Hello, good morning. Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain there.