Radio 2CC - Border restrictions, fuel security

Radio 2CC - Border restrictions, fuel security Main Image

15 December 2020

RADIO INTERVIEW - Radio 2CC Breakfast

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: We have our political panel and for the first time joining us on the panel is the member for Eden Monaro, Kristy McBain, Kristy - good morning.


CENATIEMPO: And Zed Seselja, the ACT Senator, Zed we're going to go easy on Kristy today because it’s her first time on the panel. Good morning. 


CENATIEMPO: Look so I want to talk to you about this because there are growing calls for other states to reopen the borders to residents from both the ACT and New South Wales. Now we know that there are still some coronavirus cases in New South Wales but the ACT has been Corona clear for the better part of two months, well more than two months now. I mean, isn’t it about time we started to get serious? Kristy I'll start with you because one of the criticisms of the ACT is that we are too close to Batemans Bay and your electorate.

MCBAIN:  We do need to think about how these border closures are impacting businesses, my office In Queanbeyan and Bega are receiving numerous calls every day. My electorate obviously borders Victoria, and New South Wales has its border closed. And we can't get workers across the border. We can't get people to medical appointments. We can't get people to funerals. So, there are things actually happening within New South Wales that are impacting residents in New South Wales. The other thing I guess is that because the ACT has done such a great job, the restrictions put on New South Wales businesses are now greatly impacting those businesses because the ACT has less restrictions so gyms for example, in Queanbeyan are losing customers at a rate of knots to gyms in the ACT.

CENATIEMPO: Before I get to Zed, the problem with your electorate is that parts of your electorate are closer to Victoria then they are to Sydney, but still a hell of a long way from Melbourne and where the hotspots are.

MCBAIN:  That's exactly right. I mean, there's just no common sense in regard to the impact on regional businesses. We're not near hotspots, we shouldn't be faced with the same restrictions as the capital cities. It's been great that the border bubble is coming to play now. But we need to think about that border bubble with Queanbeyan, Yass and the ACT, for example, so that those businesses in regional New South Wales in my electorate, aren't losing customers to the ACT

CENATIEMPO: Zed. I know you're probably gonna disagree with my assessment on this. But isn't this more proof that the national cabinet is just not working? 

SESELJA: Well, no, it's not. But I agree. The borders should be reopening. And I've put the case, Stephen Marshall put the cast in a Premier Palaszczuk that Canberrans should be able to travel freely to those places. We've had local Federal Labor representatives here on this programme over the last few weeks all effectively suggesting that these decisions by the Queensland Government are based on medical advice. Well, it's not true. It's a completely absurd political decision to exclude Canberrans. from Queensland, we should be able to travel there. I've made the case to Premier Marshall; I am hopeful there'll be movement there. I think that would be a really good signal. If we saw that and, you know, we don't know when there'll be announcement today, but certainly there's some speculation. I hope that will be the case. That's what I would urge him to do in order to Premier Palaszczuk to follow suit. 

CENATIEMPO: Because I mean that's the important point, it’s not just Labor premiers, it's Stephen Marshall and his counterpart in Tasmania as well who both the Liberal premiers. Kristy, the federal government has announced plans to secure Australia's long term fuel supply with an investment in domestic fuel storage, too little to late?.

MCBAIN:  Look, I've just lived through summer bushfires where that was highlighted. We saw many communities run dry, we had to introduce fuel rationing, holiday makers from Canberra probably experienced the same thing trying leave coastal communities. I mean, at the last election, Labor took a fuel security plan and was ridiculed by these government. And we see there are members on the other side who are calling for the same thing we we should have seen this happening years ago.

CENATIEMPO: Zed. I mean, I think Kristy makes an interesting point there because this is a fairly fundamental conservative policy, to have self-reliance and, and secure fuel supplies. Why is it taking so long for the government to address this? 

SESELJA: Well, there's been a number of measures that we've been taking over a period of time and this is the latest, I mean we've also been purchasing fuel already from the international markets at a time when it's been very cheap. We've been using our alliance with the US to store fuel there and we're also developing further our own domestic fuel security. So it's really important that goes along with I think with energy security as well. And we're seeing some important announcements on that today about how we can secure our supplies. Because all of these things, whether it's whether it's fuel for vehicles, diesel and petrol, whether it's gas and other energy sources that would deliver reliable energy. This is absolutely critical to our recovery. And it's critical to our economy and within taking measures right across the board. 

CENATIEMPO: It's fair to say that both sides of politics are equally to blame for the reduction in our fuel refining capacity in Australia, is it time to start building that up again. 

SESELJA: That's part of it. And what we'll see is some incentives and to see more fuel refining capacity, right, there's two, there's a number of aspects you can store fuel, but you can only store a certain amount of fuel. Of course, you need to be able to refine crude oil. In order to make sure you've got that capacity and we do have a capacity in this country. We want to maintain the existing capacity and of course, hopefully expand that over time as well. 

CENATIEMPO: Kristy, Anthony Albanese has unveiled a regional policy statement with a focus on infrastructure, manufacturing, and education in the regions. How much input of people like you and other regional members of the of the opposition had into this policy?

MCBAIN:  A huge amount of obviously regional communities are really suffering at the moment and during the by-election, an election no one wanted but one we had, the amount of people in the regional communities I serve said that they we're happy that a spotlight was shone back on Eden Monaro, who had suffered drought, bushfires and the impacts of Coronavirus. We've got communities, community groups that are doing that really tough at the moment. So, I'm really pleased that that the regional vision statement has come out and it’s something I wholeheartedly support.

CENATIEMPO: Zed, I guess the focus at the moment is on the troubles with the New South Wales Coalition, federally you would expect it to be the Nationals have to be putting a policy like this together? What's the government's response to Anthony Albanese his policy? 

SESELJA: Well, look, it's it's Liberals and Nationals who represent the regions and then we see that yes, Kristy is an exception, I suppose as being Labor member who does represent a regional seat, but one of the reasons we see so few of her colleagues in those seats is because the Labor Party is so in hock, to the Greens in the inner cities. We saw so much of their policies that have been driven in recent years have been very much Green centric, to appeal to people in the inner city of Melbourne in particular, and I think Anthony Albanese has shown no real difference in approach where just like Bill Shorten, they'd be one message when you got to Coffs Harbour or you go out to the regional areas, but a very different message in his inner Sydney electorate or in the in the suburbs of Melbourne. 

CENATIEMPO: I think you're right, but you might want to have that chat quietly to some of your Liberal colleagues in the New South Wales parliament. Kristy, I think you did very well for your first time, we'll welcome you back anytime and Zed, thank you once again. We'll talk to you next week. Thanks very much guys.