RADIO INTERVIEW – 2CC – Afternoons with Leon Delaney
Monday 16 August 2021
SUBJECT: Regional NSW lockdown
LEON DELANEY, PRESENTER:Of course you are well aware all of regional New South Wales has been sent into lockdown as the virus spreads further across the state. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has noted that the risk of COVID spreading from the ACT was one of the reasons for pushing the entire state of New South Wales into lockdown, including regional areas that at this point, don't seem to have a problem. Joining me now, federal Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain. Good afternoon.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good afternoon, Leon.
DELANEY: Thanks for joining us today. So as I understand that you don't have any active cases in in your electorate do you?
MCBAIN: No, active cases as of today, which is fantastic news for the wider region.
DELANEY: Okay, so what do you make of this regional lockdown across all of New South Wales? Is it the right move?
MCBAIN: Look, I understand that the New South Wales health and the state premier are probably grappling with some very hard decisions, day in day out at the moment. The communication obviously could have been a lot better to a lot of regional communities. We had circumstances where people were at their local footy game waiting to play and all of a sudden found out we were heading into a lockdown that could have been done better. But I think that there probably always needed to be some rules that related to the capital region because of the amount of people that work in the ACT and live in New South Wales. The amount of people that play sport there on the weekends, the amount of people that are up there to medical procedures or for school, so there will always needed to be some distinction applied in the region. But instead, they applied it to the whole state.
DELANEY: Yeah. Now, obviously, when the ACT announced on Thursday that it was about to go into lockdown, there were quite a few reports of vehicles leaving the ACT heading to the south coast before the 5pm cut off. Now, of course, those people will be probably feeling a bit silly right now because they're locked down anyway. But what do you think of those Canberrans who were attempting to escape the ACT locked down and move into your region?
MCBAIN: Well, they would have been the subject of stayed home rules anyway, that was put in place by the government, which were backdated to the fifth of August. So regardless of whether they wanted to come down to a holiday house that they had, or, or to stay in one of our accommodation houses here, they would have been subject to stay at home orders. So we've seen numerous jurisdictions do the same thing where there's a lockdown imposed, other states or territories have backdated rules to apply to people that have come there from other jurisdictions, so it’s par for the course. And now they're locked down in one of our regions.
DELANEY: Many times over the last year and a half, we've spoken about the impact on businesses across your electorate, first, of course, from bushfires, then in some areas floods. Now, of course, COVID and you've got the indignity now of lockdown, where you don't actually have any active cases of COVID-19. How are your businesses managing to cope?
MCBAIN: Over the last couple of weeks, I've spoken to a lot of different businesses across the electorate and then had done meetings with numerous Chambers of Commerce. And a lot of our businesses were really struggling. You know, the Snowy Mountains in particular has lost either 50% capacity. ie because of the Victorian border closure and the lockdown in Sydney. They were previously reporting that they were at about 25% capacity. Businesses along the coast who have lost now two summers of traffic. And we're hoping as we headed towards the September school holidays, that things would start to pick up, especially from Canberra visitors. They’re probably now facing a situation where it does not look like they'll get that traffic either. There are regions right across this country doing it tough, but, the sustained impact on businesses in the Eden-Monaro region for multiple natural disasters is really biting. And the thing that we keep pushing is that it's time to make sure that we are shopping local and we're holidaying local where we can. We understand people are in lockdown and they want to pass the time and buy stuff online. Great. Do it. Make sure it's from one of our local businesses online. And when we do come out of this lockdown as we head towards Christmas, fantastic. Please don't leave the region and holiday somewhere else, holiday at home so that we can make sure that your money is spent in regions that really need it right now.
DELANEY: And of course, the question has to be asked about both Commonwealth and state government financial support for businesses. There's been a lot of debate about that. As you know, a couple of months ago, even a couple of weeks ago, we would have thought, well, we're emerging from this. Turns out, we're not emerging from it at all, are we?
MCBAIN: No, we're not emerging from it at all. And it's a sad state of affairs, I think, for numerous places across the country at the moment, because we were all hoping that 2021 would be different to 2020. And that hasn't been the case so far. There obviously is a lot of confusion, especially when you're right near other jurisdictions. You know, there are a lot of people that work in the ACT that live in New South Wales. And they weren't eligible for the disaster payment until all of you South Wales went into lock down. So in one respect, it was kind of a blessing because those regions where people had lost hours, and they can now apply for some assistance. We had heard from numerous businesses that the JobSaver payments, the criteria had precluded a lot of them. And I think that's now also been amended. As I said numerous times Leon, there are some regions that are really struggling and doing much tougher than others where the government is going to need to understand that they will have to be there to support communities for a long time to come.
DELANEY: And of course, controversially, at one point there vaccines were being diverted from regional areas to try to address the need in Greater Sydney. Do you have sufficient supplies of vaccines now in regional New South Wales in particular in your electorate?
MCBAIN: Look, I think there are still significant waits to get your vaccine in Queanbeyan. If you're after Pfizer vaccine, the appointment times are currently out to October and November. In a lot of other regional areas, I know GPs are have waiting lists of people wanting vaccinations, but haven't yet been able to get them done. The number one criticism has been around not having enough vaccine deals done. To use a sporting analogy we were in a bloody good place in the first half of the game in 2020. And we've squandered that lead because we weren't out there trying to do deals with enough people. We weren't out there seeking to be at the front of the queue because we thought that we had this thing licked and we didn’t.
DELANEY: Thanks very much for chatting today. Thankfully on Kristy McBain federal member for Eden-Monaro.