TRANSCRIPT: Interview with Kieran Gilbert and Laura Jayes Sky News AM Agenda, 13 November 2018
Subjects: Foodbank; ABC; Labor’s negative gearing policy
We go live now to the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Thanks so much for joining us this morning Mr McCormack. Can I first ask you about Foodbank? The Prime Minister’s gone out of his way to make sure that with the new funding it is redirected towards drought-affected areas but it doesn’t undercut local businesses. Has this been a problem in the past?
The decision taken has been the right one. The Prime Minister and I as well as the Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher had a discussion yesterday; the right decision has been made.
We certainly don't want to undercut those businesses which are doing it tough at the moment in drought relief areas but this is going to really help, this $1.5 million addition over four and a half years, for those people. Particularly in rural and regional areas, as you say, to get some food on the table.
Many people are struggling with cost of living and the right decision has been made. I’m pleased that it’s been taken and that's what good Government does.
Now when you look at regional areas, Foodbank does have an important role to play, you’d recognise that. The Prime Minister this morning tweeted though: you need to be careful as a Government not to undercut businesses, particularly in drought-affected areas.
What does he mean by that? Are there businesses providing low cost options, low cost alternative options for people who need it in those areas?
Certainly, and the general store is still alive and well in rural and regional areas and of course IGA and those independent grocers play an important role right throughout rural and regional Australia. They're doing it tough just like farmers are doing it tough and small businesses are doing it tough.
What we have found with the appeal, particularly in city areas, is a lot of people are sending canned food and the like to rural and regional areas thinking that this will help. In some cases it does, but what it does do is undercut those grocers, those people who are selling food to farmers and rural communities, and what we don't want is to see them suffer any worse than they already are with the drought-stricken conditions. So what we're doing with this food relief money is providing $1.5 million more than we were previously.
But what we don't want to do is undercut those independent grocers, those wonderful IGAs. They do a fabulous job in rural and regional Australia and we want to make sure that they not only survive but they thrive as well.
Your New South Wales colleague John Barilaro is on the front page of The Daily Telegraph today saying that a cancer scare was used against him in terms of leadership. Does that sit well with you?
I've contacted John this morning. He's a good mate of mine. He's doing a fantastic job for rural and regions – if anybody can strike a deal such as the Snowy Hydro money going to rural and regional New South Wales, quarantined to do just that, it's John Barilaro. So I wish him all the very best.
Sorry to read that in the paper this morning. Politics is a tough game and it's a ruthless game but someone like John Barilaro, he'll get through this health scare and he'll continue to serve the people of New South Wales well.
And would you urge those colleagues who had those thoughts to pull their heads in? I mean it seems completely inappropriate.
Absolutely. Absolutely, Kieran, back off. Yes, that's what they should be doing. Just back off and give him the time and space he needs.
Let’s look at this other story, big story in Victoria and the nation the last few days, and that is that attack on Bourke Street.
What do you make of Sheik Mohammed Omran’s statement today that the Prime Minister should be focusing on the security agencies as opposed to what he says is scapegoating the Muslim community and the Imams?
We are concentrating very much on the security organisations and making sure that we do follow the deeds, what people are up to. But we can only do so much and whilst that is an important act of Government and we're doing just that, we also rely on communities if they see people doing such things as extremism or having radical thoughts - that needs to be reported to the authorities. I think the Islamic leader’s, faith leader’s comments this morning were unnecessary and unhelpful.
Can I ask you about the ABC? There’s claims and counter-claims being made between the former chair and the former managing director. I guess it’s kind of resembling the National Party in recent times, with all the infighting. What would you say to the ABC in terms of getting on with it?
I’d correct your statement for a moment Laura. The National Party are getting on with the job of focusing on the interests and needs of rural and regional Australia. We’re not looking inwardly. That might be a media story but we're certainly focusing on the needs and wants and expectations of rural and regional Australia and making sure that we serve them to the best of our ability. That's my focus.
As far as the ABC: inappropriate conduct in any workforce, in any workplace, is unnecessary, it’s abhorrent and all Australians should rise up against it.
And Michael McCormack, in relation to the other big news today, obviously, we’ve been focusing a bit in terms of the politics of housing, the negative gearing issue and Newspoll suggesting that the Labor Party’s policy has come off a bit but still nearly 50 per cent of those surveyed support Labor’s approach. Do you recognise that in areas where people are struggling to get into the housing market that Labor’s approach is still quite popular?
Labor's policies are unpopular. They are particularly unpopular with those people who do choose to negatively gear – they’re a lot of the nurses and they’re a lot of the firefighters and police officers and those sorts of people who are not rich, not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.
They're just doing their best, they're paying their taxes and they're using an investment opportunity that is available to all Australians and should continue to be made available to all Australians. We believe in making sure that there is that investment opportunity. We believe in those people who want to get ahead and want to save and do those sorts of things should be given the ability to do so.
Bill Shorten’s negative gearing policy is just like most of his other policies and that's negative. It’s going to be negative to Australia. He wants to push taxes up. He wants to make sure that we pay a lot more with our electricity bills and our overall everyday cost of living.
That’s what Bill Shorten stands for. We stand for lower taxes and making sure that people have the ability to invest, back themselves, and making sure that that opportunity is there for businesses as well.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, in Brisbane, appreciate your time this morning.
Always a pleasure. Thanks Kieran. Thanks Laura.