SKY NEWS REGIONAL - National Anti-Corruption Commission, Biosecurity laws, housing, roads

SKY NEWS REGIONAL - National Anti-Corruption Commission, Biosecurity laws, housing, roads Main Image

01 December 2022


SUBJECTS: National Anti-Corruption Commission, Biosecurity laws, Regional housing crisis, Road infrastructure funding.

JAYNIE SEALE, HOST: Well, joining me live is Kristy McBain, Regional Development Minister. Good morning to you, Minister. How are you?

KRISTY MCBAIN, MINISTER: Good morning, very well, thanks.

JAYNIE SEALE: Great to have you this morning. What’s your take on the Bill, the Anti-Corruption Bill?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Well, yesterday was an historic day for the National Parliament, passing the National Anti‑Corruption Bill and delivers on the promise that we made in the election that we would legislate that by the end of the year. And I think this previous election in May 2022 really was one where people were talking about the importance of integrity in politics. I know that I spoke to many electors in my own electorate in Eden-Monaro and the number one issue for them was integrity in politics. And I think an historic day but one that should be celebrated not only by this parliament but by the Australian people because now the national parliament does have the National Anti-Corruption Commission in place, just like every other state and territory body across the country.

JAYNIE SEALE: All right, and another Bill on biosecurity laws with fines of more than $260,000 for biosecurity breaches. These laws were introduced, certainly well needed by the sounds of it.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Absolutely. I think we have seen earlier this year with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease in one of our close neighbours in Indonesia how important it is to make sure that we have really tight and tough biosecurity laws in Australia. Our agricultural exports total about $70 billion a year, and we need to make sure that we continue to keep our crops, our livestock, our vineyards, our entire agriculture industry free of exotic pests and disease because we want to make sure that we not only can feed our own and clothe our own people, but we are the food bowl for the region. So, really important that these measures get passed in the parliament. Biosecurity should be everyone’s business and all of us need to play a role in it.

JAYNIE SEALE: Minister, let’s talk about the regional housing crisis. There’s a recent report from the rental affordability index that’s showing that over 40 per cent of low-income households are in rental stress. This crisis has been going on for some time now – too long, in fact. What has been done recently to help with this situation?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, absolutely, a housing crisis across the country, and especially in those areas that have been impacted by natural disaster. Look, what we have done is take a lead role because, you know, the last nine years the Federal Government disappeared and didn’t think housing was part of their remit. We know how important it is, which is why there needs to be a coordinated approach between the three levels of government. And my colleague Minister Julie Collins has had a number of meetings already with housing ministers across the country.

But what we’ve done is free up some of the restrictions and regulations in the National Housing Infrastructure Facility, freed up $525 million following on from the Jobs and Skills Summit, because for anyone that has especially gone to any of regional Australia, you know it’s really hard to attract people to fill jobs if they can’t find a house to live in. So we are working on the affordable and social housing side of things by freeing up funds in that infrastructure facility, and we’ll continue to work with our counterparts to make sure that we can release more land, build more homes and make them available to our frontline workers but, more importantly, working with all three levels of government to coordinate that housing approach.

JAYNIE SEALE: Another main issue, Minister, is roads. We’re talking this morning about, for example, regional Victorians saying they have safety concerns going into next year. Talking about 570 roads remain closed just in Victoria alone. We’ve got the roads and bridges renewable program, certainly a lot of bridges being built. But is enough being done?

KRISTY MCBAIN: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’ve seen with the recent heavy rains right across the country a number of roads impacted. We have announced over $30 million in funding to fix 18 bridges across the country at this point in time. Bridges that are high transport routes, timber bridges that need upgrades. Those bridges that need to have a different weight limit, upgrade them so that we can get heavier trucks and trailers across them. That’s only one part of our plan.

Every year we deliver financial assistance grants to local councils to help work on their local priorities. In the 2022-23 budget $2.9 billion going out to local councils in untied funding so they can put it towards things like roads and bridges, which we know are so important across the country. And we also do the $500 until Roads to Recovery program so that local councils can put those towards roads most impacted. On top of that, $750 million in the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, an increase of $250 million on the previous government to make sure that local councils can prioritise those projects in their areas, especially around local roads.

But in regards to disaster recovery funding, there has been a number of fund mechanisms available through my colleague Senator Murray Watt and his portfolio of disaster management. But we’ll continue to work with states and territories and with our local councils, because we know how important local roads are to communities right across the country.

JAYNIE SEALE: Minister Kristy McBain, thank you so much your time.