In the second part of our chat with Minister for Local Government the Hon. Kristy McBain, ALGA News discusses her time in Federal Parliament since 2020, including as Federal Member for Eden Monaro and Minister for Local Government as well as hearing about the major priorities for 2023 and beyond.
ALGA: As a former Bega Valley Shire mayor, how have you found the transition into Federal Parliament and what have you learned along the way?
Whether I am representing my community as a mayor or as the Member for Eden-Monaro or as Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, the same priorities exist. It’s important to me that I represent the community and deliver on community priorities. This means good community and stakeholder engagement and consultation.
ALGA: What are your major policy and reform priorities for this year including for Australian local governments?
Helping to address financial sustainability, helping councils with energy transition, housing issues and disaster resilience.
ALGA: What’s the best thing about being the Minister for Local Government? What are you looking to achieve long-term in this important portfolio?
The interaction I now get with mayors, councillors and CEO’s from all over Australia means I get to hear about local issues and their innovative solutions. I really enjoy stakeholder engagement. There are a lot of passionate people out there in our communities. Long term – continuing to work with councils as a trusted delivery partner for infrastructure and services. I am also working towards simplifying local government grant processes.
ALGA: During your maiden speech in August 2020, you said you were “optimistic” about Australia’s future as communities in your electorate were “home to hard working and resilient people”. How has this view changed and evolved over the past three years?
It hasn’t changed. Now I have got to see and meet with so many more communities that are home to hard working and resilient people. I remain very optimistic about the future!
ALGA: In your speech, you also said there needs to be a plan to create “vibrant, happy and prosperous regional communities”. How is this progressing and what inroads are being made in regions?
The Albanese Labor Government has a very progressive legislative agenda which is supporting many regional communities to grow. Through action on climate change, housing, the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, Roads to Recovery funding, Bridges Renewal Program, the Heavy Vehicle Safety Program, 180,000 fee-free TAFE places and $1 billion in regional funding over 3 years. Encouraging small and large businesses through the National Reconstruction Fund to employ more local people and giving our young people opportunities to study and work where they live.
ALGA: Given the challenges and stresses of being a Federal Minister, how do you like to relax and unwind?
I like being at home with family. Getting to see the kids excel in their sporting endeavours. We spend most weekends at swim meets and basketball or netball games. Catching up with friends for a good belly laugh. Walking with my husband around the beautiful beaches of Tura Beach and Merimbula.
Thanks for talking to ALGA News – we look forward to talking to you again in the future.