The Hon. Kristy McBain MP explains she is keen to listen to locally-led ideas whilst visiting Thyme to Taste Café in Yass to catch up with the Yass community over coffee. 

Having been re-elected as the member for Eden-Monaro, Ms McBain’s new role is Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories.

On her agenda are various areas going forward, including jobs and skills, housing, healthcare, and investment framework. 

Ms McBain has held ten round-table discussions focusing on jobs and skills and explained housing was one of the biggest issues people raised.

“It’s a real chicken and the egg thing. We need workers coming in, but if we can’t house them, they can’t fill the jobs that we have. So, there is a lot of work that needs to be done,” she said. 

“Planning housing is on the agenda. I think we need to make sure we’ve got a modernised planning system, which is one of those for the 21st century; we actually have to deal with some of the blockages. At the moment, if you send a planning proposal to the state government, you might not get it back for two or three years; when we’re in a situation where we’ve got a supply crisis, we actually need to deal with that…cut through some of the bureaucracy.”

Ms McBain explains there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the housing issue, as land release takes time. However, she believes some solutions could be put in place now. 

“What are we going to do with the tiny-home movement? There’s no defined legislation; they’re currently under caravan legislation. Even in our rural areas, the inability for farmers to have more than one house and a worker’s cottage on their land. I think that there are some easy wins, which would be palatable to community, but it requires that the State and Local Government to also come to the table,” she said.

One of Ms McBain’s most significant plans is to implement a Regional Investment Framework. By doing so, she aims to create clarity and certainty for State and Local governments as well as private businesses regarding where they should invest.

“I’m really keen to make sure that we make things more transparent. That we’re not doing big, regional grants for political purposes or for election timing, because these communities need certainty. That’s one thing I’m really keen to deliver in the short term,” she explained.

Ms McBain is also looking to revamp the Regional Development Australia (RDS) Network. 

“I think off the back of the jobs and skill Summit; there’s going to be some fantastic ideas that will come out. We should be able to task them to actually help us implement the ideas that we’re seeing because we have RDAs.”

While in Yass, Ms McBain will continue to listen to the community, visiting villages including Bookham and a ‘Meet the Minister’ breakfast event with the Yass Valley Business Chamber.

Southerly Jones