Interview with Neale Stewart and Meryl Swanson MP – AgQuip Radio – Tuesday, 20 August 2019


SUBJECTS: AgQuip; Labor’s Regional Jobs Taskforce; Drought.
HOST: Alright come right in ladies and gentlemen into AgQuip for the very first time on a Monday and Tuesday right here at Gunnedah. Doesn’t matter where you are, you could be in a tractor, a prime mover. You could be here for the very first time. You could be here for the 30th time. The important thing to keep in mind we have a little of something for everybody. And that’s why it’s important that we do have the rural precinct under cover when it comes to our region. Now it’s a delight to say to the broadcast box we do have Meryl Swanson, the Chair of the Labor Regional Jobs Task Force and Member for Paterson. Also we do have the Shadow Minister for the Regional Services Jason Clare. Meryl you might like to start by just saying firstly it’s an important thing today we’ve got a lot of the dry conditions. We have field days like this, but a lot of people might ask the question. The economy’s not good. We can’t make it rain with Mother Nature but we need to have these field days. We need to showcase our industries because it’s not going to be dry forever and people are very resilient. But we still have to address the importance of producing in New South Wales for so much of not only Australia but other parts of the world.
MERYL SWANSON, CHAIR OF LABOR’S REGIONAL JOBS TASKFORCE: That’s very true Neale. I think one of the things that we need to really take into consideration – and it’s a pleasure to be here at AgQuip 2019. It is one of the premier field days right across Australia and it’s great not only for people who are producing to come and catch up with those that they might only see once every 12 months here at AgQuip but for all of those associated agricultural industries to come together. People that you know sell farm equipment and tractors and things they get to speak to other people in the same profession. There is a lot of sharing of information. There’s a fair bit of competition too but it’s always good to see people coming together for that purpose. But Neale I make the point agriculture and its associated industries employ a lot of people across regional Australia and New South Wales obviously. Now I am here as the Chair of Labor’s Regional Jobs Taskforce to really look at how agriculture contributes, to talk to people on the ground because we know the regions are the powerhouses of our country and certainly the powerhouse of New South Wales. Ag employs a lot of people it’s an important part of that economic activity. So we’re out here talking to people involved in agriculture all the associated industries. It is a hard season but I know that there are a lot of really smart people in agriculture. They’re not only battling Mother Nature at the moment they’re battling with new technologies. They’re you know they’re mastering those technologies and there’s some terrific ideas around agriculture. So Jason and I are out here talking to people on the ground and getting  
more and more information so that we can now fly the flag and take back that information to put policies together and come up with some really good forward thinking plans for the future.
HOST: You mentioned Jason, so while you’re at the microphone as well. The Shadow Minister for Regional Services Jason Clare. Jason you might like to explain to the many people listening to us some of the things that you are faced with, you’re address with each day, give a bit of an outline as to what your portfolio is. 
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Regional services covers everything from the service you get at the local hospital through to the services that you can get for your kids – child care in the local area or schools – telecommunications, availability of broadband and 4G. Things that people take for granted in big cities but are harder to come by in regional Australia. We’re one country and we should have the same standard of service everywhere. But the fact is you can’t always get the same quality health care at the hospital in the regions than you can in the big cities and we should be better than that and that’s what this portfolio is about. It’s not a political point. Politicians on both sides of the Parliament need to work harder to make sure that we’re delivering better services for the regions.
HOST: You and Meryl are here on the grounds today. Where can we find you? You strolling or you’re under a marquee or a building or you’re going to be launched somewhere, where you can meet and greet?
CLARE: We do have a marquee.
HOST: I guess the question will be where because most people when I say where are you?
SWANSON: I know exactly where we are. We are down in C13, right beside Holden. So you can come down and have a look at the new Holdens running around and have a yarn to us down at the Country Labor Stall, down there C13.
CLARE:  We’re very conscious that after two elections this year people have probably had a gutful of politicians talking at them, but now’s the time to do some listening. So if you’ve got some ideas you want to tell us about then please pop in and say g’day.
HOST: You know I admire the opportunity that you find yourself not only available but you’re also very approachable people. I mix with a lot of politicians. I’ve interviewed a lot of politicians and most of them talk by the floors and smoke and mirrors. You both seem to be down to earth. You’re both very approachable and above all of it, the thing is you’ve got a common interest – the rural aspect of Australia’s producers. So for all of you people either here out in the paddock if you’re coming to see us at AgQuip make sure you do it very soon because you’re here for today and tomorrow or today only.
SWANSON: Today only for us but there’s plenty of Labor people down there at the tent and they can all take back the message loud and proud as well Neil. So thanks for that.
HOST: Okay. Well before you go anything else you’d like to tell us? Have we got anything coming up in the next week or months that the people of New South Wales Rural sector would like to hear about?
CLARE: Well this is a taskforce that’s going to go all around the country looking at the challenges that the regions face. Whether it’s here in this area or whether it’s up in Queensland or Western Australia or Northern Territory. The challenges are pretty similar. The economy is pretty soft at the moment. You can tell that from the Reserve Bank having to cut interest rates and wages aren’t going up. In the regions suffering from the drought it’s harder than most. We drove from Tamworth this morning and in places that are supposed to be rivers they now look like puddles.  That tells you just how hard things are. We have been talking to people at AgQuip that are doing it tough and how the political system and the politicians in Canberra can help out. This is a very important conversation so please come and say g’day to us today.
HOST: Okay give us the site number once more.
SWANSON: It’s C13 Neale. I’m going out to invest in the local economy. I’m about to go out and buy a harrow for behind my tractor. So I’m just doing my bit.
HOST: You drive a tractor?
SWANSON: I can drive a tractor.
HOST: You can probably drive a few things, ride a horse [inaudible]
CLARE: Your daughter fell off a horse on the weekend.
SWANSON: She did at Tamworth, over at AELEC she was competing. I’m going to go and do my little personal bit for AgQuip and the regional economy. But on a serious note it is great to be here and we really want to talk to people in the regions and hear what they’ve got to say.
HOST: Delighted to talk to you both.