Photo: AAP Image/Brendan Esposito
IAN MCNAMARA: Good morning Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day Macca how are you?
MACCA: You’re at Bathurst I believe?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah we’re just rolling up now, up towards the racetrack and there’s a lot of excitement here. It should be a great day. It’s a historic day, it’s the last runout for the Falcons.
PRIME MINISTER: Out here in Bathurst, so yeah.
MACCA: I understand, there’s these two blokes who rang me before and they just said they’d been going there, they get there last week, they camp there and one of them calls it the "Bathurst Hilton".
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah?
MACCA: They’re just, just so keen and wonderful. But look, why I wanted to talk to you Prime Minister, is about the drought still.
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
MACCA: Even though there’s been a bit of rain, it’s still very dry in lots of places. We had a lovely call this morning from a bloke called Adam who just read something online and he’s been down, carrying on his truck, with his wife, raised some money, got some hay and taking it down to this little diary farm family who are doing it tough, real tough, down at Finley. So it’s still biting everyone but I heard something about money going to people if they’re getting money and also to councils? We’ve had calls this morning, for instance, a lady Colleen who rings us from time to time says: "Look, we’ve got to save our main streets." Because really the towns, which is, I’ve always said, which is the main thing really, isn’t it? You’ve got to, even if there’s drought, you’ve got to make sure the town is doing alright.
PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s absolutely right and part of our response is the $75 million we’re putting into local councils all around the drought affected areas. Some 60 of those and each of those can get up to $1 million to do up any number of projects, from you know, up in western Queensland I’m sure they’ll be doing dog fencing, they’ll be doing road maintenance works, they’ll be doing up the local swimming pool if that’s what they think is necessary. What that does is that gives people jobs in the towns.
Now, we’ve already made a lot of responses in terms of the Farm Household Assistance and we’re getting that form less complicated. We’ve got more to do there but we’ve already had eight councils come back already, it’s only just opened up about a week and a half ago and some of those councils are right on it. That’s great and I’m pleased to see that but we want to get that money out the door to these important projects. We’re going to work closely with the drought-affected councils to ensure they’re putting it into projects that can really help the community. And you know, you get the money flowing through the towns and that just keeps the grocery store open, it keeps the hairdresser open, it keeps the local café or the bakery or whatever and that’s what we’re trying to see happen.
Can’t make it rain, but we can do things like this which will help the towns so that’s where we’re focused.
MACCA: Saving the main street, it’s really an important thing isn’t it, I mean even if there’s hardship. It’s like that old story you heard about the bloke in drought. He goes into the town and he sees Mr Gardner or whatever his name is, who runs the local store. He gives him credit, because he knows when the drought’s over he’ll be right. But that sort of thing goes on and that’s where you’ve got to start, on the main street, I think, don’t you?
PRIME MINISTER: Well that is true but it sort of builds also on the drought recovery and the programmes we’re working on with Major General Day, who we spoke about last time I was on. Barnaby has been out there as well, he’s been focusing on keeping the towns alive as well. So you know, investing in future water infrastructure and silage. All of these sorts of things are also part of the plan we’ve been rolling out and delivering new tax incentives or those sorts of things.
We’ve got the Drought Summit coming up as you know, later this month and Macca, mate, thanks for coming along.
MACCA: I mean -
PRIME MINISTER: You’ve the speaker at the lunch and mate, you can relay all of the views of your listeners so I’m looking forward to that. I really appreciate your involvement.
MACCA: It’s a pleasure. Now, listen before you go, you’ve got to tell us are you a Ford or a Holden man?
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve got to say when I was a kid, who can ever forget that one-two finish with Allan Moffatt?
PRIME MINISTER: That always just burns in my mind, so that probably makes me lean Ford’s way, I’ve got to say.
MACCA: I’m a Ford man, I have to tell you right now Scotty, I’m a Ford man.
PRIME MINISTER: And it was Colin Bond, I mean that was one of those formational experiences I think. We’re just rolling in now into Bathurst where all the tents are up and everybody is here and they’re looking really excited. You know, it’s great. I mean there there’s been a lot of hardship around mate, but a day like today, people, it’s like the footy finals, it’s like whatever sport; it enables you to get your head away from that for just a little while. Gives you a bit of sanity.
MACCA: They’re important things I think, things like car races and football finals.
PRIME MINISTER: I think so.
MACCA: Stuff like that, even though there can be a little, or a lot of sadness at a football final as you’d know.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah.
MACCA: We need – because it’s Mental Health Month – you need as many things like that as you can get.
PRIME MINISTER: And some of that money for the councils too, is going to support some of those types of things in those districts; getting people together and ensuring that they can enjoy a normal sort of district life. But I’ve got to say, I was out here in Bathurst about eight weeks ago. My daughter and I were actually picking up a dog for the family. But it’s looking a bit better I’ve got to say, there’s been a bit more rain. This area wasn’t as affected as some of the others, but we need more of it mate.
MACCA: I’ll say.
PRIME MINISTER: So we’ll keep doing what we need to do and I know you’ll keep doing what you need to do mate and thanks for the work you’re doing, just keeping everybody’s spirits up.
MACCA: Prime Minister, enjoy Bathurst, thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Macca, see you.