RADIO INTERVIEW – Radio 2CC, Breakfast with Stephen Cenatiempo
Tuesday, 20 April 2021
SUBJECT: Veteran's Royal Commission, Anzac Day, COVID-19, National Cabinet
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Normally we'd be having our regular political panel this morning, representing the Labor Party - Kristy McBain, the Member from Eden-Monaro is with us. Angus Taylor was going to be with us but Kristy's had him kidnapped so he's not with us this morning, Kristy. Good morning.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Ha ha, good morning. How are you?
CENATIEMPO: Very well. I want to talk about the Royal Commission that's been announced yesterday into defence and veteran suicides. The government's had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this. They should have announced this a long time ago. But the opposition has been largely silent on this. If it wasn't for the crossbench. In some backbenches. This wouldn't have happened at all.
MCBAIN: Yeah, look, it's fantastic that has now been announced. But, Stephen, we've been talking about a Royal Commission as the Labor Party since 2019. And I give full credit to Jackie Lambie for continuing to pursue this matter in the Senate. But the Labor Party has been there supporting her and supporting families of veterans who have been calling for this for a long time.
CENATIEMPO: Why do you think there has been a reluctance to actually call this Royal Commission? I mean, the government clearly acknowledges of is a problem, because they've instituted this National Commissioner, the ongoing role, which I think is it is equally important. And I see a real dovetail role for both of these things. But there doesn't seem to be any political rationale for a reluctance to do this.
MCBAIN: No, I agree with you. It was strange that they resisted calls from this when it was coming directly from veterans and their families. You know when you look at the statistics, you know, it is pretty stark. This year alone, we've had 18, defence force members or veterans take their own life, and we're only in April, more people have committed suicide, then we lost in the Afghanistan War. So there is a serious issue. And we need to look at, you know, how we're, we're helping those veterans once they actually retire, or leave the service. And I think that that's a big thing. That's what people are asking for. And we're finally at that position now.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, well, let's hope that it happens sooner rather than later, we're talking about July at this stage, because obviously, the terms of reference still need to be determined. Now, I want to talk about this ANZAC Day issue. And both sides of politics need to take responsibility for this. But given that most of the state and territory leaders are from the Labor Party, I mean, we've got our priorities out of whack, well, we can have a full house at the footy but can't have a full house for Anzac Day.
MCBAIN: We all want to make sure that that contact tracing is abided by. So there is an outbreak, we do have the ability to contact people. But we need to get serious about this. And then we've been talking for a long time about business certainty and business continuity. And you can have, you know, people playing contact sport, or you can have, you know, 1000s of people in a football stadium, but you can't have full capacity to gym. You know, up until very recently, we couldn't stand up at the pub.
You know, it's been quite a strange time where when there seems to have been more leniency for some areas then there has been for others. You know, I think we actually have to make sure that National Cabinet is working together. You know, they're now on a war footing apparently, if they're meeting twice a week, I think there needs to be a lot more done in terms of coming together and deciding how we get out of this. And business certainty is crucial and all that.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, absolutely. And that's what I've said all along that the Federal Government really needed to take a leadership role in this National Cabinet. But I get the impression that the state and territory leaders have gotten delusions of grandeur over this. And the biggest problem I see is the lack of consistency, as you've mentioned, but the lack of transparency to as to why, you know, you can have 100,000 people at the MCG, but you can only have 5500 at a march, there doesn't seem to be any explanation as to why we can do one but not the other.
MCBAIN: No, that's exactly right. And that's what people are saying wherever you go, that there is no consistency to any of the regulations that have been put in place. And look, we all want to follow the health advice. And if the health advice is saying this, then fantastic. let's see it so we can provide certainty to people. I mean, we're in a situation where along the coast we've had, both in New South Wales and then a Victorian border closure.
But the National Cabinet has never agreed on a definition of a hotspot. They'd never agreed on triggers for border closures, which just leads to a situation where you lose traffic overnight, because one side of the border or the other decides to close. You know, that doesn't provide anyone with certainty. And we've already been through a tough enough time. So it's about time National Cabinet got together and had a really serious think about how they give information to businesses and to community.
CENATIEMPO: Kristy, you are gonna destroy your political career with all this common sense.
MCBAIN: ha ha ha, I hope not. I think people, people just want to make sure that they are following the advice. They want to make sure that they can understand the advice and they want to make sure that they're doing the right thing. But most of all, we all want to get on with life as normal. Whether we were business owners, whether we're workers whether we're stay at home parents or carers, you know, we want to make sure we're doing the right thing, but we also don't want to be penalised unfairly.
CENATIEMPO: Kristy - good to talk to you this morning.
Media contact: Ian Campbell, phone 0417 482 171