RADIO INTERVIEW – ABC South East NSW, Breakfast
Monday, 30 March, 2021
SUBJECTS: PARLIAMENT HOUSE CULTUE, MORRISON RESHUFFLE, BUSHFIRE RECOVERY, LABOR MANUFACTURING FUND, WOOD SUPPLY SHORTAGE.
SIMON LAUDER, PRESENTER: A reshuffle with a focus on women is this a solution to the federal government's problems? The Prime Minister has created new portfolios for women's economic security and safety and has also created a new ministerial task force for women but Andrew Lambing remains in parliament, has the government done enough to solve its problems after weeks of news reports about the workplace culture and treatment of women in federal politics?
Last week Kristy McBain stood before federal parliament and revealed some of her own experience with sexism and harassment and she joins us now, good morning.
KRISTY MCBAIN, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning
LAUDER: Thanks so much for joining us on ABC South East again, now does this reshuffle solve the government's problem when it comes to the sexist culture within the government?
MCBAIN: I think what everyone wants to see right now is action and a simple ministerial reshuffle doesn't really start to solve some of the issues that a number of women and men were talking about at the March for Justice which happened a couple of weeks ago now.
I think there's been multiple inquiries, there's been multiple reports, there's still a report that Kate Jenkins the Sex Discrimination Commissioner did over a year ago that's sitting on the desk of the Prime Minister and the former Attorney General which has 55 recommendations to stop harassment in the workplace and nothing's been done in that regard yet.
LAUDER: On the weekend we heard from Liberal MP Sarah Henderson and Katie Allen suggesting that alcohol and drug testing of parliamentarians as another strategy to improve behaviour, have you been surprised by what you've seen in Parliament House when it comes to drinking on the job?
MCBAIN: No not really, you know I obviously came in to parliament in the middle of a global pandemic so the hallways of parliament have been very different since I've been there over the last eight months then perhaps what it’s normally like, I don't know.
But you know it's a sad state of affairs when we think that banning alcohol within the building would be the panacea to better workplace culture or more respectful treatment of people in the building, I have no issue with it but I think we've got a long way to go if that's seen as the gold standard or the answer to all of the problems with the culture in Parliament House.
LAUDER: Labor's national conference kicks off today, are you hoping that this will be an issue for the Labor Party as well? I guess asking itself whether it can do better on this front?
MCBAIN: The Labor Party obviously takes all of these issues very seriously and after the 2019 election started a review of its own policies into workplace bullying, harassment, and sexual assault and there are actually procedures in place to make sure that if our party is also facing the same issues that there is a process to go through, so you know that's a start, hopefully we don't have to use those, but you know I think everybody at this point in time is calling for political parties, for workplaces, for everyone to see that this is the moment to look at how we can meaningfully change our structures so that there aren't these deficient results in the treatment of women in the workplace or in society.
LAUDER: And at the Labor Party conference I understand Anthony Albanese is going to be talking about a $15 billion pledge for a manufacturing fund for Australia providing investment opportunities, when it comes to manufacturing for Eden-Monaro do you see many opportunities there, and any ways for local businesses to take advantage of that?
MCBAIN: We're obviously doing our bit in the manufacturing sector however big or small it is, we’ve obviously got one of the largest food manufacturers in Bega Cheese based within Eden-Monaro, we've got a lot of small businesses that are looking to grow to, we've got the Soap Boys just out of out of Bega who are manufacturing products for bathrooms whether they be in large or small businesses or public toilets, you know we’ve got a number of breweries and distilleries that are looking to ramp up production now that there is a massive focus on buying locally, so you know we do have some of those manufacturing sectors here but being able to make those grow and seeing what else we can attract to the region is obviously key to our growth and development.
LAUDER: And to local issues, when it comes to roads as we've been hearing, the Snowy Mountains Highway is going to be closed for 12 hours most nights every week for eight weeks because of repairs that are required. Is it time to seriously look at finding an alternate route up and down the mountain?
MCBAIN: I think people have been calling for some time for you know significant work to take place on Brown Mountain and looking at whether that is the best east west link from the coast.
Bega Valley Shire has obviously done some work on their transport strategy which looked at east west corridors, you know when I was the Mayor I had conversations with John Barilaro as the Deputy Premier and our local member Andrew Constance about the future of Brown Mountain, I think it's something that we're all concerned about because you know we have seen a number of floods over the last 10 years and each time it causes a significant disruption to traffic movements so we need to look at it and I think right now is the time to decide whether that is the best route and if it is the best route we need to make sure that we can stabilise those banks and keep it open.
LAUDER: And just an issue which is related to bushfire recovery and people's ability to rebuild we're hearing of a shortage - a serious shortage of soft woods for building frames and that kind of thing, we're hearing from local builders as well as the Master Builders Association that that's the case, are you worried about that?
MCBAIN: It's obviously a serious concern we know that in Eden-Monaro on the other side of the electorate in Tumut and Tumbarumba that there has been a 40% loss of timber to our softwood industry.
One of our manufacturers on that side - Hyne Timber makes 25% of house trusses for the state of New South Wales, we have sponsored delegations into Parliament House for Hyne and their workers, we've been out to visit them, we've requested numerous times that there be assistance for them to look at soft woods from further afield and that hasn't been forthcoming at this stage - but this was always going to happen, we have been highlighting these issues in Canberra for some time now, that yes houses will need to be rebuilt, yes there is a boom in construction happening at the moment but unless we actually help our producers get timber from further afield, because they've lost 40% of it within this electorate, we're going to have serious issues if we don't address it, we'll have to import timber from overseas - it's bordering on ridiculous at the moment.
LAUDER: How can it be addressed?
MCBAIN: A number of companies have actually sourced timber further afield from Victoria and South Australia, what they've been asking the government to assist with is a subsidy so that they won't have to do all the freight costs themselves, otherwise the costs of our construction materials will go through the roof, so you know there is a role for government to play here, and to understand that without assisting we lose potentially hundreds of jobs from the South West Slopes - that's a $2 billion a year economy in the South West Slopes from the forestry industry alone.
LAUDER: Great to talk to you again this morning thanks a lot.
MCBAIN: Thank you.
LAUDER: Kristy McBain the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro.
Media contact: Ian Campbell, phone: 0417 482 171