Labor Eden-Monaro candidate Kristy McBain had a round table discussion with representatives of the forestry industry at Tumut Golf Club on Friday morning, and says she understands the importance of the forestry industry in the Tumut region.
“We’ve previously been at Hyne Timber Mill and we went to AKD this morning, and speaking to everybody in the forestry chain today was a key priority for us because of how many jobs right across Eden-Monaro forestry directly and indirectly supports,” she said.
“It was fantastic to talk to them, but it’s not about short term fixes for them, it’s a long-term plan, and that’s what people right across Eden-Monaro are asking for, for a plan, so these regions won’t be forgotten and left behind.
“I’ll work with the forestry industry to make sure their needs are met from now into the future.”
The federal government last week announced $50m for the industry to recover from the summer bushfires.
A $40 million Forestry Recovery Development Fund for competitive grants wiill support processors to navigate future wood supply shortages through innovation and product diversification, while $10m has been set aside for companies to establish storage facilities for processed timber products, fire-affected logs and other forestry products.
The fund will produce additional certainty for mills and help businesses plan their long-term recovery, the government said.
She believes the Labor Party has been a big supporter of the forestry industry, as this will help her on election day, as will her own background.
“The thing I have in my favour is that I have worked with the forestry industry in Eden already; we’ve already established good relationships with Visy and the sawmills here,” she said.
“We as a party have supported the establishment of forestry hubs across Australia, we’ve supported the no water rule, so I think the Labor Party is best placed to advocate for the industry in the workers in it.”
An advertisement for Ms McBain’s campaign contained the phrase “I will be a voice for Wagga Wagga” despite Wagga not being part of the Eden-Monaro electorate, and this was seized upon by her opponents, especially the National Party.
“I didn’t say it; it was in an advertisement, which was a mistake, and if that’s all the Nationals have got then good luck to them,” she said.
“At the end of the day, media markets right across Eden-Monaro come from a range of different places; from this side of the electorate, some of it comes from Wagga, for Queanbeyan some of it comes from Canberra and down the coast some of it comes from Wollongong. Obviously it was a mistake in a print advertisement, but at the end of the day what people are asking for is a strong voice for their community, and that’s what I’m best placed to provide.”
A bizarre spam email is circulating claiming Ms McBain is sick with Covid-19, has been training people to lie in court, is urging people to vote for Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs and that the bushfires were punishment on Eden-Monaro for Ms McBain’s “witch hunt” against priests.
“When I put myself forward for this I knew there was potential for that, but my biggest concern is the intimation on some of our bushfire-affected victims and some other people right across our community,” she said.
“That’s part of the reason I’m running, because I don’t believe anyone’s interested in this negative politics, and this system of disinformation that we have which can be so harmful to so many people.
“I think that on the fourth of July it is pretty easy to send a message to people that we’re not interested in that, were actually interested in people getting on with the job and putting communities first.”
She believes the battle for Eden-Monaro will be a close one.
“It will be a very close race right to the end and we’ll make sure we are campaigning right till the end.”
Not surprisingly, like Labor predecessor Dr Mike Kelly, Ms McBain is a supporter of the Snowy 2.0 project.
“I have always been supportive of it,” she said.
“I did a tour of Snowy Hydro T2 in December last year as well as Visy in my role as part of Canberra Region Joint Organisation, and what we’ve been calling for as part of our jobs plan is a local jobs target when we have projects like Snowy 2.0 going ahead, because we know that people in regions need good secure full time work. We support it and we definitely want to see local jobs created out of it.”
She said she has met with the proponents of the proposed Tumut-to-Batlow rail trail.
“I have said to them that there are a lot of people to consider in this, and I’ll be sitting in opposition if I win this election so I won’t be able to deliver anything, but there are a lot of parties to consider in this process and what we need to do is get people around the table to have that discussion.”