07 April 2022





SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: The Federal Election Campaign has not even officially begun, the whole nation is waiting for the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to announce the election date. But as you know, the phoney campaign began weeks ago maybe months ago. An issue which is already the centre of promises from both sides of politics is one you are always telling us you want addressed here in the southeast, better internet and better mobile phone coverage. Last month the Coalition announced money for improved fixed wireless services in the southeast now the Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain is also promising to make NBN faster and more reliable and to fix mobile phone blackspots. There are promises for the electorate of Gilmore as well. Kristy McBain Good morning.


LAUDER: Now what are you promising? What's the announcement?

MCBAIN: Look, we know during the last few years that mobile phone and internet connectivity has been front and centre for a lot of people during natural disasters and then through COVID, where we had people learning and working from home. We've been out and about listening to people. So the federal Labor Government will commit $1 million to help address black spot issues on the Kings Highway on the Monaro Highway and on the Snowy Mountains Highway, and $3.5 million to address those issues on the Princes Highway from Ulladulla to Eden. We also have some small local solutions directly for Dalmeny and Mystery Bay, as well as Carwoola and Majors Creek. You know, we've been out and about listening and this is the biggest thing people are talking about.

LAUDER: And when you when you say address issues, does that mean if this is implemented, you'd be able to drive along those highways and your phone call wouldn't drop out.

MCBAIN: That's what we're aiming for. We know that during the Black Summer, we had thousands of cars leaving our area and effectively driving blind in some locations, being unable to track where the fires were around them. It's not an acceptable solution. There's been a huge increase in both passenger and freight traffic on all of our main road corridors. And we need to start dealing with this as the priority it is. Whilst COVID has seen more and more people come in to the regions it's also highlighted how far behind we are an infrastructure and service delivery in parts of the country. So we've got to start addressing these problems.

LAUDER: And Labor also promising to provide faster and more reliable NBN connections, internet connections for 18,000 homes and businesses in Eden-Monaro. There was an announcement from the Coalition just last month that it says would benefit more than 29,000 premises in the electorate. So is the coalition promising more than Labor?

MCBAIN: No, what the Coalition has promised is better access to satellite and fixed wireless technology. The Labor Party will match that, but what the Labor Party will also do is invest additional money into connecting fibre to the premises, which will be 18,000 additional homes and small businesses across this electorate. So we would have people who would be able to access much better internet speeds in Eden, Merimbula, Bega, Pambula, Bungendore and Jerrabomberra for a start. As I said, COVID really shone a spotlight and showed that we were further behind then a lot of people have been led to believe. So we've got to start addressing some of these issues. Otherwise, it's once again regional Australia that gets left behind.

LAUDER: And I know you've been staying across the developments with the Currawarna aged care facility in Bombala. Yesterday, we spoke with Jo Brownlee, she had just moved her 93-year-old father Bruce, out of the facility and it was a pretty devastating day. Look are there any developments there which might see Currawarna saved or at least services return there in the near future?

MCBAIN: It’s been a very distressing time for families in Bombala having to deal with this aged care closure and not having facilities close by and looking at a 200 kilometre round trip. I had three phone conversations with the Aged Care Minister, I have written to him and I've never received a response from him formally. I believe that the Aged Care Minister and the Health Minister had met with the New South Wales government, but I wasn't invited to participate in any of those discussions. I will continue to fight to keep the Bombala aged care facility available and come up with a solution. Because I think what we're seeing is that regional aged care facilities that aren't profitable to private providers will be closed. And this isn't just a problem in Bombala, it will be a problem in other locations as well. And I've already seen one in Eden close, we actually need to come up with some solutions going forward. So I look forward to continuing to work with the community to come up with those solutions, because we need to do this, so that people who live in a community can stay in that community, regardless of their age.

LAUDER: And last weekend, we finally saw the Liberal Party announced its candidates, your opponents in Eden-Monaro, the Liberal Party's Jerry Nockles. Are you pleased to have some competition or at least know who your opponent is now?

MCBAIN: Oh I've been in the job for about 20 months now and travelled over 90,000kms speaking to communities, to businesses and industry to volunteers, right across the places. There are 365 different towns and villages in Eden-Monaro that spans right across our near 42,000 square kilometres. So if you can get into the race with what we think will probably be five weeks to go and think that you're across all of these issues, then best of luck to you. I am a local. I live in this part of the world. I've been educated here.

LAUDER: Jerry Nockles, he's from Jindabyne as well. So he's got the local credentials. That’s what he told us?

MCBAIN: I don't know about that one. So we'll have to have to do some more research. I don't believe he lives in the area.

LAUDER: Oh, why don't you believe that?

MCBAIN: Look, I understand from speaking to other people that he lives out of the jurisdiction. Understand he has a property in the electorate but doesn't live here full time. So as I said, best of luck to any candidate putting their hand up. We really should congratulate people who put their hand up for public office. It's never an easy job. But,  at some point an election will be called and residents will be able to make their mind up about who represents them

LAUDER: Any day now, you would think. And finally, the shadow Agriculture Minister Julie Collins, she's been pretty tight lipped on whether Labor has plans to phase out live sheep exports, as it did in 2019 or are plans to set a farm gate milk price, will there be some announcements some sooner rather than later?

MCBAIN: There'll be a range of announcements taking place during the election itself. Both Anthony Albanese and Julie Collins were at the National Farmers Federation earlier this week outlining a range of policies, including trying to make sure that we deal with the telecommunications and internet connectivity issues in regional Australia. Because we all know that Ag technology is going forward in leaps and bounds and our farms need access to connectivity just as well as everyone else in this country. So we will be announcing a range of policies as we head to the election but I will be working very closely with Julie Collins on a range of agricultural and forestry issues.

LAUDER: Kristy McBain good to talk to you again. Thanks a lot.

MCBAIN: Thanks.

LAUDER: Kristy is the Member for Eden-Monaro. We'll talk to her again during the campaign of course, Jerry Nockles, as well give him a chance to respond to what Kristy McBain had to say there.