TRANSCRIPT - Interview with Weekend Today, Parkes Elvis Festival

E&OE

JOURNALIST:

In Parkes the Elvis Festival has kicked off and this morning we’re joined by a very different looking Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and his wife Catherine. We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you. Both of you are clearly Elvis fans. This isn’t the first time you have attended the festival.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

It’s the third time, and we’re really, really excited today – 25,000 people are going to be descending on Clarinda Street, the main street of Parkes, in a little over an hour. It’s going to be fantastic. We’re all shook up about the 27th annual Elvis Festival!

JOURNALIST:

Absolutely.  There’s a serious side to this too, because Parkes is an area that has been quite heavily impacted by the drought. How important do you think events like this are to places like Parkes?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

It contributes about $13 million to the economy, and Parkes is one of 81 councils throughout Australia which has received $1 million from the Federal Government for drought assistance, just to keep money in the town.

How important is this festival – I think Priscilla, my wife Catherine, knows just how important it is, just how these areas are affected by the drought. So when you can not only put a bit of money into the town but also make people happy, make people feel good about themselves – this is what this festival does.

Bob and Anne Steel dreamt up this idea as far as Gracelands Hotel is concerned, that’s a local motel in Parkes – a dinner party idea has turned into the most amazing festival.

As I say, 25,000 people can’t be wrong – that’s on top of the 11,000 people who actually live in Parkes.  It’s going to be a huge day and all of Parkes, indeed all of the Riverina region is going to be all shook up…

JOURNALIST:

You’re one hound dog, Mr McCormack…look, you are dressed as Elvis…

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I hope I’m not going to be called a “hound dog” this election year, but I’m getting right behind it!

Catherine’s not going to be lonesome tonight; she’s going to have me to celebrate the Parkes festival and all things good about the Riverina.

TODAY:

You are dressed as Elvis but of course you are the Deputy Prime Minister so I just wanted to quickly ask you about the $37,000 Mathias Cormann spent…

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

… You can hear the music in the background; this goes on…

(Audio delay)

…and people descend on this Parkes festival. 

Parkes is very much country Australia. What goes on in Parkes: they know the heartbeat of the nation. They know the pulse of rural and regional Australia. They’re doing it a bit tough with the drought at the moment and it’s made stock numbers very low or hard to get a crop off.

Despite that they are very resilient people, they are plucky people, they are determined people.

And they are going to be celebrating today all things Elvis, all things Gracelands. Well done to Bob and Anne Steel. Well done to Mayor Ken Keith who really gets behind this as well, dresses up the entire Council, the entire community.

It’s going to be a fabulous day, drought notwithstanding – and it’s going to be about 38 degrees so these sequin flared suits are going to be pretty hot later in the day. But it’s all for a good cause.

JOURNALIST:

I think we’re going to have a breakfast television first now because I believe the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, while dressed as Elvis, might have a little something to sing for us.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

And I’ve got Brodie Finlay who is an absolute Elvis aficionado. Brodie, come into shot.

Brodie’s going to get nice and tight and we’re going to sing for you. I hope Scott Morrison’s not actually watching, but let’s go

(Sings rendition of ‘Viva Las Parkes…’)

JOURNALIST:

We might have a contender – remember when Peter Costello did the Macarena all those years ago? Brilliant.

Michael McCormack, I mean Elvis and Priscilla, thank you very much for joining us this morning. Have a great time at the festival.

Hannah Maguire