Radio interview with Assistant Minister McBride and Caroline Perryman, ABC Central Coast - 15 May 2024

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister McBride's interview with Caroline Perryman on the federal budget; mental health; energy bill relief; housing.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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CAROLINE PERRYMAN, ABC CENTRAL COAST: You're on ABC Central Coast, and I wonder what your initial thoughts are about the Federal Budget – 1300 925 222, or on the SMS, 0467 922 684 – and what's in it specifically for the Central Coast? Earlier I spoke with the Member for Robertson, Doctor Gordon Reid, and now it's good morning to the Member for Dobell, Emma McBride. Great to have you with us. A big night for you.

EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: Yes. Good morning, Caroline. Good to be with you.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: Yes, very late night, probably. So we do appreciate you getting up to speak with us at breakfast. Specifically, how much new is coming our way over the next 12 months, especially- if this is all approved, of course, especially in your northern electorate here on the Coast?

EMMA MCBRIDE: I'm really proud to be part of a government whose top priority is on cost-of-living relief to make sure that every person on the Central Coast has relief. We know that many people are under the pump and feeling the pinch at the moment. I'm really pleased to be part of a government that has got a strong focus on cost of living, and some particular measures that I know will be of benefit to local people, including the energy bill relief. We know that many people are feeling the pressure, and up to $300 in the next financial year will make a difference to many households, and there’s a little bit more for small businesses.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: What does happen if you are on solar and you do- you won't have that much on your energy bill? Would you get the extra money in your pocket? What will happen then?

EMMA MCBRIDE: This is designed as an energy bill relief, and it would be up to $75 per quarter. So, someone would get a maximum of $75 off their bill each quarter.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: Okay. So if you don't have that much on your bill, you don't get anything.

EMMA MCBRIDE: What we would know is that in communities like ours on the Central Coast, that most people would receive the amount in full, and every household is eligible to it. And all small businesses are eligible up to $325.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: Some in the industry, especially the community industry group, we heard from Nicky Sloan earlier, also we heard earlier from Michelle Adar from the Housing Trust, and they're sort of saying there's nothing in this Budget for social and affordable housing. What can you tell us about how you'll be helping especially vulnerable people in your electorate?

EMMA MCBRIDE: Our government is determined to build more homes for more Australians, and we have an ambitious plan to build 1.2 million homes through the decade for Australians with a particular focus, as Minister Julie Collins said just yesterday, on women and children fleeing family and domestic violence. We're providing an extra $88.8 million for 20,000 new Fee-Free TAFE and VET places, because we understand one of the things that we need is a big skills boost and the availability of more tradies to be able to build these homes. So, a big focus on social and affordable housing, including in communities like ours on the Central Coast.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: Of course, we need the workers to actually build those places, don't we? You’re on ABC Central Coast, I'm speaking with Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, who's also the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health. When it comes to those portfolios, especially your interest in the mental health sector, what's in this Budget to help people on the Central Coast who are struggling with mental health? We know the rising cost of living is contributing to that as well.

EMMA MCBRIDE: In mental health, we're launching a new national early intervention service, where people, including on the Central Coast, will be able to access free, high quality, evidence based therapy from trained professionals. This will mean that people in distress will be able to get free support, either referred by their doctor or self-referred. We're also rolling out 61 Medicare mental health centres, including two on the Central Coast, one in Tuggerah and one in West Gosford, building on the Head to Health model of the former government. In doing that, we're building their clinical capacity, upgrading it so that every one of these centres, which is free walk in, there'll be access to a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a GP on call. We're also working on Kids’ Hub to make sure that children and families have the right wraparound support and care for emotional, developmental, and mental health support. So, across the lifespan and across the level of severity, people on the Central Coast will be able to access free quality care.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: So those two new clinics, they're on top of the ones that we've already got. We already got two, haven't we? One in each electorate, and then there's another two coming. Is that right?

EMMA MCBRIDE: The Kids Hub will be new. We're announcing kids and family hubs right around the country. A total of 18, including several in New South Wales and one on the Central Coast. And that location will be announced soon with the New South Wales Government. In response to the Head to Health centres, what we're doing is that the Head Health centres at Tuggerah and West Gosford will be upgraded so they've got greater clinical capacity. So, if someone does need a psychologist or a psychiatrist or a GP, that they'll be available on call through those centres. So they don't need to wait for a diagnosis, they don't need to wait for a referral to be able to get that quality care free close to home on the Central Coast.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: And what else is in the Budget for the Central Coast to help with cost-of-living measures, and also just, I believe there's the announcement regarding the rail network. That's not new, we did hear about that earlier this year to do that study. I think there was 80, almost $80 million for that study into the fast rail network.

EMMA MCBRIDE: In terms of infrastructure, specifically in Dobell, there has been an additional $1.2 million of Commonwealth funding for Central Coast Highway upgrade, that Tumby Road intersection. I know that will be welcome news to many local people to see that road upgraded to improve safety on our roads. This Budget also locks in progressive increases to local roads funding. This brings a total five-year investment in the roads to recovery funding for Central Coast Council in my electorate to more than $24 million. And I know that's welcome news for many local people. We've got a large local road network on the Central Coast, and this funding will be an important investment to be able to see the upgrades of those local roads to improve safety and ease commuting around the Central Coast.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: All right. The Member for Dobell, Emma McBride. Thanks for your time. We look forward to, I suppose, to- down the track in the next few days or so picking through the finer details. But thanks for your time this morning.

EMMA MCBRIDE: Good to be with you.

CAROLINE PERRYMAN: Emma McBride there, the Minister for- or the Member, rather, for Dobell. And she's also the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health.

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