MIL-OSI Australia: ABC Radio Canberra with Adam Shirley

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Source: Australian Executive Government Ministers

ADAM SHIRLEY: Talking about the landslip at the Clyde Mountain and some of the other road conditions that you might find a bit hairy on the drive back into Canberra or around the region on this public holiday Monday. Kristy McBain is the Federal Minister for Regional Development and Federal Member for Eden-Monaro. Kristin McBain, good to speak with you. Thank you for your time.

KRISTY MCBAIN: Good morning.

SHIRLEY: So, I know we’ve spoken before about a lot of the roads around Brown Mountain, Clyde Mountain that need repairing, and the money that the government’s put in for that, but I’m guessing after the next weekend there’ll be some more work and money required. Have you received reports from the local region in Eden-Monaro about that?

MCBAIN: I keep a pretty close eye on a number of our community notice boards and obviously the rock fall on the Clyde Mountain was making a lot of the Facebook headlines over the weekend. It’s because both Brown Mountain and Clyde Mountain are gateways to the coast from the capital region. They’re both highly utilised transport corridors, not only for passenger vehicles, but also for freight. It’s important that we continue to maintain the stability of those roads, obviously, both state highways. We’ll work with Transport for NSW over their concerns. We’ve obviously put close to $6 million into repairs on Brown Mountain, in conjunction with the Mins Labor Government, to address a number of the landslip and rock fall issues that have been plaguing the Snowy Mountains highway for a period of time. That work is currently underway and will be ongoing for a period of time. We’ll work with transport for NSW over any concerns they’ve got with the Clyde Mountain, if they make those requests.

SHIRLEY: There are a number of secondary roads as well as those main highways around the Eden-Monaro region heading down to the coast. Is it likely there’ll be some more potholes? Unfortunately, there’s some more rivets cut in because of the rainfall, the huge amounts of rainfall that that region received leading up to the weekend?

MCBAIN: There’s been a lot of really heavy rainfall over the last few days and it’s important that we address any of those issues. Most of those roads are local roads. What we’ve done as a Federal Government is double a bucket of funding called Roads to Recovery, which automatically goes to councils every year. We’re increasing that from $500 million a year to a billion dollars a year over the next couple of years, in recognition that councils now have a huge job in maintaining those road networks, particularly after a number of heavy rainfall events and natural disasters.

SHIRLEY: So, a couple of other areas around the Snowy Mountains highway. I mean, this is obviously important as we try and start ski season. I guess it was a bit of a damp skid, but what are some of those landslip sites that need repairs or that still waiting for them?

MCBAIN: Most of those that we’re dealing with at the moment, in conjunction with Transport for NSW, are on Brown Mountain. The next lot of roadworks is currently being planned. There is that first landslip area towards the bottom of Brown Mountain. The second landslip area is to the top. We’ll be putting some soil nails under the roadway, redoing the pavement and also putting up some new guardrails. That lot of work will kick off very shortly, and is due to be completed in August.

SHIRLEY: All right, Kristy McBain is Member for Eden-Monaro, Federal Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories. Adam Shirley with you on ABC Radio Canberra. Just how hard is it also to get the crews and the workers required to do this? It’s one thing to provide funding, Minister, but is it also an issue to get the expertise and the know how?

MCBAIN: This is pretty highly specialised work. It’s not just as simple as pavement repair. Soil nails being put into the side of the mountain is quite specialised work and there is some shotcreating going on, which is basically pressurised concrete being blasted onto the side of the mountain. We were waiting for some crews to come down after they’d done a fair bit of repair work in the Hunter area of a similar nature. It is making sure you’ve got the right contractors as well to deal with work like this.

SHIRLEY: And is there a timeframe for most of this work to be completed? I know that there will be ongoing issues and new areas of landslips and difficulties on our roads here will crop up. But as far as the amount of work that you’ve committed to now.

MCBAIN: The second part of the works that we’re doing will commence in about a week’s time, and it’ll take around 14 weeks to repair that section. It’ll still be maintained by traffic lights, and traffic will flow with those traffic lights being in place. There won’t be any closures, it’ll just be managed by traffic lights, as it has been for a little while now.

SHIRLEY: A question not on notice, I know, but thinking about the King’s Birthday Honours List and a couple of politicians, namely Dan Andrews, receiving the highest award, I think Mark McGowan from WA’s also received a gong. I mean, what’s your personal view, if you’ve got one, on politicians in the course of their work, getting such a high award? I suppose on a day like today?

MCBAIN: Obviously, they’ve been nominated by somebody, because it is a nomination system. When we think about it, politicians getting awards for their work may be appropriate. It’s probably a very small number in comparison to the huge number of community members that receive them. I want to give a big shout out to all of those Eden-Monaro recipients. Just one who I think has done a really fantastic job is Sue Bulger, who’s been a standout in the Tumut community on the Tumut Brungle Land Council. She’s been a local teacher and has done a hell of a lot of work in that region. There’ll be people like that right across the country who have been working in their local professions or volunteering in their local communities. These are the majority of people on the King’s Birthday Honours List, people that make our communities great places to live and to work.

SHIRLEY: Well, and I wonder, as you mention her, in the work that she does in her local community in Tumut, whether you would understand that people might think that’s more deserving or appropriate than, say, a leading premier politician. And I know it’s happened on, well, many sides of politics through decades, but it gives me pause to think, well, is that more deserving or appropriate than someone who’s doing a job in a high profile position as it is?

MCBAIN: Well, there are a number of people on those lists who are getting these awards for the jobs that they’re doing. And as I said, this is a nomination system, so someone’s nominated them. Their application has been viewed and assessed by the panel that looks at these and that’s reflective of our community. Everybody that makes that list deserves to be celebrated for the work they’ve done, and it’s up to people to nominate. There’s been over 300 recipients of the Order of Australia Medal, and their work is nothing short of extraordinary.

SHIRLEY: Kristy McBain, always appreciate your time. Thank you for it.