Doorstop with Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie and Mr Andrew Gee

Transcript
07 Oct 2018
Blayney, NSW
Prime Minister, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation
Drought relief; Sydney Opera House; unions; Labor taxes; immigration;
E&OE

ANDREW GEE, MEMBER FOR CALARE: Okay well folks, thanks for coming out today. We are absolutely delighted to have the Prime Minister here in Calare electorate along with the Minister for Sport, and many other things, Bridget McKenzie. Also, the Mayor of Blayney and also Angus and Michelle here from the CRT in Blayney. So we’re absolutely delighted that you could all be here and in particular, we’ve been out at Mount Panorama today which was a wonderful community event, a big regional national and international; event and I was just very grateful that the Prime Minister wanted to come out and see what we do out here in Central-Western New South Wales and see what we can do and how well we do things out here, I think it’s really important to do that. But I also wanted the Prime Minister to come out and talk to some folks here on the ground about the drought.  Because from day one, the Prime Minister has been very interested in finding out about the drought and in particular, the impact on country communities. He’s always had a very strong interest in that and he’s been leading on this issue which I think has heartened many people in country Australia. Certainly the feedback that I’ve had here on the ground in the Calare electorate, which has been hard-hit by this drought, is that they have been delighted to see the Prime Minister out learning as much as he can, talking to people and leading on the relief effort. The Prime Minister is his own man, he is who he is, he doesn’t pretend to be something that he’s not. We love it that he comes out in his cap from the Shire, the farmers out here really respect that he’s just who he is and he’s here to learn and he’s here to help. I think that’s really important.

I guess what we’ve seen in recent times is a little bit of rain across this region, which has been terrific. But whilst the paddocks are green now, we’re not out of the woods yet, we’re not out of this drought yet because even though things look nice and green basically every farmer in this area and across the region is still feeding, they’re trying to source hay, they’re trying to source grain. For some of them, the bill is absolutely enormous, so there is a huge toll this drought is taking on the farm and on farming families. But that’s not the only toll that it’s taking. All of our country communities are being hit hard by this drought. It doesn’t matter what part of the community, from the mechanics to the tire-fitters to the grocery stores, to the fuel sellers, everyone is feeling the effects of this drought. The knock-on is huge.

So we’re here today to talk also about the Drought Communities programme which is the federal Government recognising that the impact of this drought is not only on the farm and at the farm gate. It’s in our country villages, our towns and our cities as well. Because all of these businesses are being hit hard and you can talk to Angus and Michelle about that today. Business is really slow and we want people to actually know what’s happening in these communities but we also want you to come out and visit us here in the country. And if you really want to help, come out and see us, come out and spend money in our communities. Come out and spend time in our communities, that’s something that every Australian can do. But the Drought Communities programme is all about making sure that not only farmers are helped and looked after but our country communities are looked after as well. You’ll hear in a moment from Scott Ferguson who is the Mayor of Blayney Shire about the important work that they’re doing. And this money is now available so we’re encouraging the councils to get their submissions in and we can get the money out the door. The money is available, it’s available almost as soon as you can get your submission in. So some councils have but many more haven’t and we want those councils to take advantage of this because, just talking to the Mayor of Blayney Scott Fergusson for example, they’ve got some great initiatives that they’re working on here. You’ll hear more about that shortly but now I will hand over to the Prime Minister and Prime Minister welcome to the electorate and thank you very much for coming.

PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you Andrew and to all those who are gathered with us today, Bridget and Scott and everybody. I want to thank you for joining us here today. Andrew, I commend you for the work that you have done in being a voice for your local community and ensuring that the Government is very well informed about what is happening on the ground. Andrew is one of those who is very well informed on what is happening on the ground and Andrew is one of those who particularly, was very keen to see that we got the Drought Coordinator General in place, Major General Stephen Day, to ensure that regardless of who as out helping, whether it was at a Commonwealth level, a state level, a local government level, whether it was charities or all the great goodwill we’ve seen right across the country, we made sure that our response to both the relief and the recovery and the resilience effort for the future, is incredibly well coordinated. Later this month we’ll be having the Drought Summit and that will be bringing together all of these different efforts that are going on all around the country. It’ll even have Macca there to speak at the lunch and he can be feeding back directly on behalf of all of his listeners all around the country, what their experiences are as well.

I think this is the effort that we’ve had to engage in, helping each other, ensuring that what we’re doing all around the country is well-coordinated and it’s targeted and is focused. I’m sure Andrew would agree that we thank all of those Australians who have shown such generosity.

I’m just coming from Bathurst now, and the work that has been done around the Bathurst 1000 and the money that is being raised through the motor-racing industry, that’s tremendous. To all those out there watching the race today, it was great to be with you today, but make sure you pop into Blayney, pop in as Andrew said around other parts around the central west and make sure you get to enjoy what this wonderful part of Australia is all about.

What we’re announcing today is we’re rolling out the $75 million Drought Community programme extension and that is $1 million, up to $1 million for every single drought-affected council area around Australia. It opened up last week, last Friday. We’ve already had one council in and we’ve got about half of them engaging with us now, putting applications together or beginning that conversation. Scott here from Blayney, they’ve got their council meeting coming up and they’re going to be finalizing some of their submissions. Now what this is about, is really straightforward. The Government can’t make it rain, but what we can do is invest and bring forward investment in projects, in services, in various other things that actually keep the money churning around in the towns. You know, yes the farmers have certainly been impacted. There’s not doubt about that, facing horrendous feed bills and that is still the case despite what is a green tinge, which is pleasantly starting to reemerge. But we’ve still got a long way to go and the towns are also impacted by that. So what this will do is enable communities all around the country who are affected by drought, to invest in some roadworks, invest in dog fencing up north, they can invest in water carriage, they can invest in upgrading their accounts systems and things like that, digitizing their record at the council. This all creates jobs in the towns and it keeps the money in the towns it keeps the economy of the towns ticking over. That’s why we’re engaging in this programme, it keeps the hairdresser open, it keeps the mechanics shop open, it keeps this farm supplier, CRT, open and ensures that the jobs that depend on that continue to be there while we get from where we are now to where we all want to be, which is where it’s raining again and the prosperity returns. We’ve got to get from here to there and that’s what coordinating our drought response is all about. So sure, it’s been great to be at Bathurst today. It’s been great to be at the great race of the nation but frankly the more important job is right here; this is ensuring that every single one of these councils gets access to these funds as soon as possible. So, you know, the money will flow as soon as they can get their applications in. I know they’ve got lots of great ideas how they can do it, from doing up the local amenities block at the swimming pool, to whatever it is that is their priority, that can bring that work forward and ensure that those jobs get created and sustained in those local communities.

The other thing I’ll say to Australians as you continue to support our rural communities is; make sure that you’re doing it in cash, in direct financial contributions through the registered organisations. Because that’s the best way for that support to get into those towns. Often that is then delivered through vouchers in those towns, which means the money is spent in the town, which keeps the IGA going, or it keeps whatever the business is going, in those towns. When we have the Drought Summit in a few weeks time, we’re also going to be looking really carefully at what the resilience plans are going forward. The New South Wales Government has good plans there and we’re going to work with them to ensure we build back up and that our farming communities can be investing in the other infrastructure they want to put on the farm now and making sure the right incentives are in place to achieve that. We’ve already approved the taxation arrangements of silage. We’ve already improved it for things around water infrastructure as well and we want to have those programmes and that will help our rural communities rebuild and have the resilience for the future.

Now Bridget McKenzie is the Minister for rural and regional services and local government among many other things as Andrew said. Bridget is overseeing this programme and she’s going to tell you a little bit more about how it’s working on the ground and how the councils can get access to that, so those jobs can be there and be supported as soon as possible. Thanks Bridget.

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION, SENATOR THE HON BRIDGET MCKENZIE: Thanks PM and it’s absolutely fantastic Scott, to be with you again and in Blayney. I am the Minister responsible to roll out the Drought Communities programme and as the Prime Minister and Andrew have made really, really clear, whilst the farming community is at the forefront of our mind and has been at the cutting edge of our response thus far, the drought has been with us for months and up in the north, for many, many years, it’s the local rural supply stores, it’s the hairdressers, it’s the garages, it’s the IGAs, it’s all the services and small businesses that are within a small rural community. For us to recover appropriately from the drought, our rural communities need to have vibrant local businesses still operating, so that they can go forward when it rains again. So the Drought Communities programme as has been said, puts $1 million on the table for the 60 drought-affected communities, for them to put forward projects to employ locals that may be doing it tough right now. And importantly for those projects to procure the materials that they need locally, if you think about when this programme was rolled out previously I think at Barcaldine Shire in a little town called Alpha, where $161,000 was spent and employed 18 people, 400 employment hours were actually used and 11 of the local businesses were able to supply materials to that particular project. That kept cash going through their cash registers, that meant they could continue to employ people in businesses like Angus and Michelle’s here. That’s important because if they leave town as a result of a lack of financial viability, the recovery from the drought going forward will be absolutely much harder. That’s not what we want.

So the drought programme opened Friday week ago. When I first became Minister I wrote to all the affected councils within the first week, let them know who I was and got them to start thinking about the types of projects that they would want to put forward. Because we need this money hitting the ground as soon as possible. We need these projects, contracts to be signed, people locally to be employed, those good being procured locally, as soon as possible and to get that cash to flow through communities like Blayney.

And you know, I’m really buoyed with the fast response from those local councils, half of them, half of the 60 have already engaged with my Department and are actually looking forward to putting through their projects. I’ll be fast-tracking those as soon as possible. We can get money out the door from the 11th of October and on the ground in local councils bank accounts so they can start getting those contracts organised and getting people employed. That’s what we need to see for a vibrant, prosperous regional Australia. We need small businesses in towns like Blayney to continue keeping on.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Bridget. Why don’t you tell us a bit about how the process is going to work for you here in Blayney, Scott?

SCOTT FERGUSON, MAYOR OF BLAYNEY: Yes absolutely. Thank you and thanks for the opportunity. Certainly, everybody, on behalf of the Blayney community, it’s wonderful to have the PM here. We’re quite chuffed actually because obviously you come from the Shire and we call ourselves the Shire of Villages. So there’s some great synergy there. When I heard about your visit I was thinking there’s probably only one person in Australia that would keep me away from the great race and it just so happens to be the PM, so you’re very welcome here. Certainly to have Bridget here as well in Blayney is great and again, Andrew Gee our federal member who we’re fortunate enough to see a lot of and is very supportive of our part of the world.

I guess I’d certainly like to acknowledge the reality that we have seen an absolutely severe decline in the spending from our rural community in our area. This drought has been at least 12 months, a lot of our farmers have been feeling it for a very very long time. As everyone has mentioned, the cost of this feeding and supporting their livestock is massive and it really now is starting to affect the communities that they live in. We’re extremely grateful for this opportunity that the federal Government has given us to be able to get this money back into the community. The reality is the farmers have pretty much stopped spending. All their money is going into supporting their businesses and their stock. The reality is it is having a very, very detrimental effect, a poor effect on our community. This funding, this programme, will give us the opportunity, the Blayney Shire Council to invest in a whole range of projects on the ground in this community that will actually support the viability of our businesses. We are seeing massive decline, up to 30 per cent in our area and I believe right across New South Wales, in businesses that are not only directly affected by agriculture but indeed indirectly as previously mentioned. I guess the two parts of this programme is one, obviously it’ll put much-needed cash-flow into our community, but for me personally, it also gives the confidence to our community that the federal government acknowledges it’s knock-on effect that the drought has. You all appreciate the difficulties that our farming communities are having now. The reality is that for most of them it could be at least two years before they have any income at all to start investing. I think that is something that we need to be very mindful of, that it will be a long road back. Indeed, it’s ironic that three years ago we probably had the wettest winter and the best spring we’ve ever had, three years ago. Prices were good, there was money in agriculture. 2.5 years later, here we are, almost back to where we started. For a lot of farmers who took the opportunity to pay down some debt and get on top of some farm maintenance 2.5 or three years ago, they are now taking back on that debt again to support their stock and their cattle. So it’s really important that we acknowledge the fact that it’s a very, very long road back from where we were, especially in our community and I’d suggest right across the states.

But the confidence this money, the acknowledgement that the federal Government does, can appreciate the fact that it is hurting our smaller businesses, businesses like we’re here today, who are very happy to have the Prime Minister here to show off, this is a very typical businesses that is struggling down on their turnover and they’re looking forward to that for the next 12 months at least so again.

Blayney Shire welcome this money. We have some great projects that we’re going to be discussing with my fellow councillors tomorrow, a whole range of things, ranging from upgrades to our community bores around our villages, important infrastructure, a great opportunity to upgrade those. We have a lot of showgrounds, we have a lot of volunteer organisations that run our annual agricultural show, it’s the opportunity to update their facilities, their toilets, their air conditioning, sheds. Not only is it able to support those assets and those volunteers, but indeed they showcase agriculture in our community.

So we’re looking forward to that, we have a large equestrian centre we’re hoping to build. There's some really innovative storm-water harvesting and water-saving initiatives that we're really hoping to put that money towards as well. So all in all it's a great initiative. We're excited. We're hoping that we make sure that money really gets through our community. Certainly on behalf of our community we're happy to have Andrew Gee in our corner, acknowledging our problems in our corner and to have the Prime Minister here and really understanding what's going on here, is, as I said, as much as anything, it gives us a great confidence that we're not alone and the Federal Government does understand what we're going through.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much Scott. As you can see there, these guys are ready to go and they’ve got some very practical project to make a big difference here in Blayney. And if you need a horse rug over there, come down and see us.

[Laughter]

I don't know, I recon I wouldn't know one end of a horse rug from the other. But nevertheless plenty of other people do, and they certainly do here at CRT. So let's take some questions on the program itself and if there are other questions I'm happy to deal with those.

JOURNALIST: This funding was originally announced in August, you talk about trying to get it rolled out as quick as you can. Why has it taken this long for the guidelines to come out?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we have been working on it for a number of months, that's true. I'm really pleased it’s out there and it’s rolling out now. This is what Bridget has been working on very carefully, Bridget do you want to&hellip:

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION: Yeah I'm happy to take that. Obviously I took over the responsibility and it was my first task of business as the new minister responsible. I wrote to each of the 60 councils in that first week of becoming the Minister for Local Government and signed off on the criteria within weeks. So now, set up to go. The Department is ready and raring to go, working hand-in-glove glove with affected councils to actually ensure their projects are ready to go and they're working overtime to get the money out the door by 11 October. So if you think about August to 11 October where the money is hitting the ground, I think that's as far as government programs go, that's pretty good.

PRIME MINISTER: We're spending $75 million of taxpayers money, so you follow a proper process to do that, to ensure that it's being done efficiently, but also observing all the proper probity arrangements as well. I think on the other side of this, I think people would be critical if the money wasn't going to things that mattered most and there weren't proper processes around how the money is being provided.

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION: I think the other thing to realise is that councils themselves are having to go through their own internal processes. So, they've had a month that I have written to them and said: “Please have your projects ready to go,” but they’ve also had to develop up the projects, take them to their own councils and get approval before they could submit as well.

So I'm really keen to see the money flowing out the door on 11 October and I'm confident that councils like Scott's and others right around the east coast will be flooding my Department with applications soon.

PRIME MINISTER: Your meeting is next week isn’t it Scott, you’ve got a meeting next week?

MAYOR OF BLAYNEY: Tomorrow.

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION: Tomorrow, so there you go.

PRIME MINISTER: Excellent.

JOURNALIST:  The cut off is June 19, do projects also have to start before then as well?

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION: Absolutely. The purpose of this project, or programme is to actually get on the ground in affected communities, the money as fast as possible, so we can employ locals and that we can actually procure those materials from local businesses and support local economies at towns. So we want to see that money out of our bank account and into those affected councils, so they can start contracting and employing straight away. I don't want to see councils in two years' time still coming up with ideas or waiting to spend the money. The whole purpose of this is to support communities now at this time of need.

PRIME MINISTER: And the money has been budgeted in this fiscal year.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that all those councils, you said half have come to you, will all have projects that will be beneficial to communities by June?

MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, SPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND DECENTRALISATION: Well that’s why my Department is working hand-in-glove with them. I have got additional staff on, so that any council that rings in will have a Department official that will be able to step them through the process and be almost simultaneously assessing and giving them guidance around their projects.

I mean, we want to see this money, as I said, on the ground. We want to see it go to projects that are going to deliver the types of outcomes the Government wants to see; which is locals employed and the money spent locally.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you mentioned horse rugs before and the New South Wales Premier says it is in the public interest to advertise a horse race on the sails of the Opera House. Do you agree with that?

PRIME MINISTER: I do actually, I mean this is one of the biggest events of the year. Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has? Events, look, I come from a tourism background and you know, these events generate massive economic opportunities for the state, for the city.

I mean, just look at the biggest event this place sees every year down at Bathurst. I mean I’d put the Bathurst 1000 on the Harbour Bridge if I thought it was going to get more people there. It’s just common sense and I don't know why people are getting so precious about it.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it is a worry that it opens up the use of other commercial advertising into the future?

PRIME MINISTER:  We’re talking about an event that is one of the big money spinners for the state. It creates jobs. This isn't about advertising a packet of chips, this is about advertising one of the biggest events that New South Wales holds. Frankly, I thought it was a bit of a no-brainer, I can't work out what all the fuss is about.

JOURNALIST: Maybe that it's advertising gambling.

PRIME MINISTER: I mean, this is advertising a big event. That's what it’s about. It's about a big event and you know, sometimes I think people have just got to have a bit of a lie down on this sort of stuff. They can get all very unctuous about it. This is about a Premier who just wants to see their state grow and jobs getting created.

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten has outlined Labor's plan for a government today. Has the election campaign begun?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll tell you what Bill Shorten's “five point plan” is; more tax, more tax, more tax, more tax, more tax. That is Bill Shorten's plan.

More tax doesn't grow the economy. More tax when you don't grow the economy, doesn't guarantee Medicare or hospitals or schools. All it means is more tax dragging the economy down, taking more of what Australians earn. That’s not a plan for a stronger Australia, that is a plan for a weaker Australia.

JOURNALIST: He says he wants to bring back penalty rates, what is your response to that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I've seen Bill Shorten really backing in the union movement, pretty heavily. The change the rules thing, basically they want the people who are quite happy to break the rules, to make the rules. That’s the Labor Party's plan when it comes to industrial relations. What Bill Shorten wants to do is to drive workers and their employers apart. He wants to go down the path of militant unionism that actually drives Australians apart from one another. You don't make a stronger economy by driving a wedge in your own workplace.

The way you achieve a stronger economy is you get everybody working together - employees, employers - that's how small and medium-sized businesses in particular do so well around the country. They all get it; they have to work together. They're not looking to pick fights with each other.

I mean Sally McManus was the person who said she didn't think “necessarily” that laws applied to the union movement. So, Bill Shorten's problem is that he is going to be the complete puppet of a union movement that thinks it is okay to not have to follow the law.

We shouldn't let the law-breakers become the law-makers under Bill Shorten.

JOURNALIST: The ACTU union ads were launched today, what are your thoughts?

PRIME MINISTER: It’s no great shock that the union movement wants Bill Shorten as the prime minister, because Bill Shorten will let the law-breakers become the law-makers. Union-bred, union-fed, union-led, that’s Bill Shorten. That's why the union movement and all the militant thugs in the union movement are going to get in there and start campaigning for Bill Shorten.

I mean, there's one thing I have in common with Bob Hawke; he was the last Prime Minister to turn up at the Bathurst 1000 and he was a Prime Minister who was prepared to stand up to union thuggery. He was the one who stood up to things like the BLF. Bill Shorten, when it comes to militant unionism, gives them life membership of the Labor Party. So, if you want to see militant unions dragging our economy down, then Bill Shorten is your guy.

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten has ramped up his election campaign today. What is your message to the Australian people, your mantra, going into the election?

PRIME MINISTER: The same thing I said since coming into the job and frankly before, when I was Treasurer; an even stronger Australia is one where you keep your economy strong. That is what guarantees the essential services that Australians rely on.

Under our Government, more than 1,000 jobs created.

Under our Government, the Budget getting back into the black.

Under our Government, 100,000 young people in just one year getting a job, the strongest ever growth in youth employment in our country's economic history. The lowest level of welfare dependence of the working-age population, in 25 years.

Under our Government 150,000 or thereabouts, got off welfare and into work.

When Labor was in charge, over 200,000 people got off work and went into welfare. So our records show that we know how to run a strong economy. We’re going to keep Australians safe and we’re going to keep Australians together.

The way you lead Australia, is to keep Australians together, not trying to set one group of Australians against another and setting employers against employees or vice versa. Setting one set of parents about where they send their kids to school, against another set of parents about where they send their kids to school.

We're about bringing and keeping Australians together.

JOURNALIST: There's no denying Australians are facing high cost of living pressures, how can you combat any campaign from Labor and the unions on that issue?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Labor will put electricity prices up. That's a no-brainer. I mean, Labor's reckless targets on emissions reduction will see household electricity prices rise by around $1,500 a year. That's what Labor's plan is; more taxes, higher taxes, higher electricity prices, higher private health insurance.

Under Labor you will pay more and more and more.

Under our Government you will continue to have the strong economy which means that you will get a much better deal.

JOURNALIST:  When will the election be?

PRIME MINISTER: Next year.

JOURNALIST: Doctors Without Borders have been asked to leave Nauru, can you guarantee the wellbeing of people in Australia's offshore processing centres when such groups have been banned?

PRIME MINISTER: Australia doesn't run offshore processing centres, the facilities on Nauru are run by the Nauruan government and we've been supporting the Nauruan government for many years to ensure medical services are provided. We've been taking the responsible action in relation to people who are in medical distress for many years now and we will continue to.

But I tell you what we won't do. I mean, yesterday Bill Shorten was offering advice on how to run an immigration program to the Government. I think I’ll pass on that one, Bill.

If I'm looking how to run a good immigration program I won't be asking the Labor Party. Under the Labor Party, their failures of immigration led to the most horrible of situations, as we know, where the boats were coming and 1,200 people died. So when it comes to immigration, I won't be looking to the Labor Party for advice.

JOURNALIST: Can I bring you back to the central west again and the drought?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s great, let’s talk about the central west.

JOURNALIST: You talk about a Drought Summit coming up and you talk about the lasting effect and how this will go on for years at least. When do we see any more answers? $1 million for councils is great, but more is needed.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, you will see more announcements, absolutely you will. I'm sure you’ll see them from other agencies other than the Commonwealth government as well.

On the drought summit, we're working to a number of initiatives and we’ll have more to say about that. One of the things that Bridget raised, importantly, is we’ve got to work even more closely with councils. Some of the councils, you know, they don't have a lot of staff and they're already pretty busy. It's how to best use these sort of resources, how to best coordinate drought relief and other things, on the ground. You know we’re carefully about how that can be used to support councils.

In many of the drought-affected areas, the council is actually one of the biggest economic drivers in those communities. That's why the we’ve chosen councils as the primary delivery vehicle for these services. We're looking at how we can bring existing infrastructure programs forward, existing roadworks programmes which are out a bit. That work is going on as we speak, because that also drives a lot of local revenue and local towns. I mean, the contractors who we want to be local, you know, they're going to spend their money in the local communities. So we want to see that work happen. While the work won't be on the farm, we want it to be there with the council.

JOURNALIST: A 30 per cent decrease in business in Blayney, it’s huge. What sort of difference are you expecting the $1 million to make?

PRIME MINISTER: As much as we possibly can, that’s our honest view. We know this doesn’t solve all the problems but as Scott was just saying, this is a tangible demonstration that our Government gets it. We get it that yes, while the farms are struggling and we're doing what we can to support them and the New South Wales Government in particular is doing what they can, because that's their primary responsibility, our responsibility is to ensure that this regional economies, local economies stay alive. As a former Treasurer, I particularly understand that. I want to see these towns remain and sustain their viability through this very tough period. I believe they will. I think the resilience of these towns is magnificent.

You know, we've heard a lot of very despairing stories, but that's not the whole story. There's a lot of great stories out there of resilience, hope and success. We’re going to see those stories. Australians are backing our towns and backing rural communities in all across the country. Because they know, as Scott was just saying, it was 2.5 years ago and that’s coming around again. It will come around and we’re going to keep believing that. Great to be here with you all, cheers.

[ENDS