SKY NEWS REGIONAL - Drought Agreement, preparation for next disaster, Energy Ministers meeting, Infrastructure Australia

SKY NEWS REGIONAL - Drought Agreement, preparation for next disaster, Energy Ministers meeting, Infrastructure Australia Main Image

08 December 2022


SUBJECTS: Drought Agreement, preparation for next disaster, Energy Ministers meeting, Infrastructure Australia.

JAYNIE SEAL, HOST: A review into Australia's 2018 Drought Agreement has identified gaps in the response that's resulted in 33 proposed recommendations for immediate action. Kristy McBain, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, joins me live now. Good morning to you, Minister, how are you?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: I'm very well, thank you.

JAYNIE SEAL: Thank you so much for joining us. So, yes, one of the recommendations was more government support needed before and after drought events. What are your thoughts on this recommendation and the whole outcome of the report?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Look, I think the report is really worthwhile, it's highlighted a number of issues, and obviously we'll be looking at those recommendations quite seriously. But we came in to government knowing that people were asking for us to deal with mitigation and resilience, which is why we repurposed the former government's failed $4.8 billion recovery fund into a mitigation and resilience fund, and we'll work with local communities across the country, because we know that they want to prepare for the next disaster coming, and drought, you know, is one of those things that we are going to have to continue to face in this country, and we'll do everything we can to make sure that we're supporting our communities.

JAYNIE SEAL: Yes, absolutely. Because when the cameras are off, and we've spoken about this for a long time, you know, a few times here on the show, the camera's off, the attention has been taken away, but there's still a lot of need to be sorted in areas such as the bushfires, for example, in your area?

KRISTY MCBAIN: That's right. I think preparing now, you know, whilst we are seeing flooding around the country, preparing now for what it will look like in drought again, or preparing for the next bushfire is really critical. We know already that communities are asking us to help them be better prepared. We know that the three tiers of government really need to work closely together when it comes to helping local communities in the lead‑up to any disaster season, and most importantly being there for response and recovery, but we know people want to be prepared. So, our government is taking the lead on this, and I've got some fantastic colleagues, including Minister Murray Watt who is well and truly across this, and his department, now that the new National Emergency Management Agency will be front and centre.

JAYNIE SEAL: All right. A meeting of state Energy Ministers will take place in Brisbane today ‑ it's a big one, isn't it ‑ the Albanese Government hopeful that the State and Territory leaders are going to be able to come to an agreement on how to ease the rising price of energy. All eyes are going to be focussed on today and tomorrow's National Cabinet meeting.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, that's right, energy continues to be one of the biggest issues across the country at the moment. We know, obviously, with the rising cost of energy, due to the war in Russia and Ukraine that there are some ongoing issues pushing the price of energy up across the country and across the world.

We, however, are going to take the lead on it, unlike the former government, who attempted 22 policies, didn't land one, saw the exit of four gigawatts of power out of the system and only managed to get one good gigawatt back in. We know more needs to be done, which is why it's our focus, and my colleague, Minister Bowen, will be meeting with Energy Ministers and National Cabinet will obviously be convening, and we hope to have some announcements on that prior to Christmas.

JAYNIE SEAL: All right. Now we do have to wrap it up, but just quickly, on the front page, one of the pages in The Australian today, it talks about Infrastructure Australia needing to be overhauled its titled "undervalued". An independent review has basically accused the previous government of undervaluing the organisation, and they're going to produce a refined and smaller targeted infrastructure priority list.

KRISTY MCBAIN: I think it's really important that we have an independent infrastructure body that actually can advise government going forward, and what we want to do is give it a clear mandate and clear direction, and my colleague, Minister King will be working with Infrastructure Australia to do that including making sure that their remit is legislated, so that any future governments will be able to use their expertise, use their review powers and make sure that we are utilising their knowledge as we put fund towards infrastructure projects across the country.

JAYNIE SEAL: All right. How is Tura Beach there at the moment, Minister?

KRISTY MCBAIN: The sun is out, it's a bit windy, but just coming back from early morning swim training this morning, I think hopefully we're all in for a very nice summer.

JAYNIE SEAL: All right. Well, thank you very much, as always, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain, we'll talk to you again soon.