Sir Peter Cosgrove interview with Richard Wilkins and Rebecca Maddern, TODAY

16 February 2020

Richard Wilkins, host: Former Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove is helping get local businesses trading again there and he joins us this morning. No better man for the job. Sir Peter, thank you for joining us, sir. 10 semi-trailers have just made the trek from Sydney to Mogo. What have they got for you?

Sir Peter Cosgrove: Well, Richard and Becky, what we've got coming down the highway in just a few minutes from now, will be 10 demountables from ATCO, the great Australian company that does that expedient housing. On the back of the 10 semi-trailers, and they are going to set up a business hub here in Mogo. And the reason is about a quarter of the businesses here in Mogo were destroyed, apart from homes. The businesses here were smashed, and this is a way of getting economic activity going, getting those people, those business folk back in operation. So this beautiful place can get back towards normality, a great step forward.

Rebecca Maddern, host: What a brilliant idea, and I understand that all these demountables have been donated. Is that true?

Sir Peter: Yes. Well, the company ATCO has provided them and well done ATCO. That's actually a Canadian company, but it's been in Australia for such a long time-

Richard: Oh, we'll take them.

Sir Peter: It's now part of us.

Richard: Yeah, yeah it is.

Sir Peter: You'll see these all over Australia.

Richard: Yeah, Sir Peter, I think it's a great concept that you're doing sort of a pop-up mall where where people are all going to be together, they're going to be working together, the community spirit is going to be sort of rebuilt, if I can put it that clumsy way.

Sir Peter: Yeah. Look, I think the whole notion of direct aid, a really quick aid to get businesses back up and running is a key to recovery. I want to just remark because it's important that we say that the first step was always taken by the community. When the people of Mogo looked around and said, "Look, our town's been smashed by this bushfire," their resolve was to get back to operating in a normal way, get back to the beautiful way of life here, and they took the first important step and we're now with them on the long journey. This'll take years up and down the coast. It's going to take years, but here in Mogo, this is an important first step.

Rebecca: Yeah, it is going to take years, and I think a lot of people watching this morning will be saying, "All right, I know what's happening. How can I help?" Can you talk us through what these communities need right now?

Sir Peter: Yeah. We've got to have the rest of Australia stick with this issue, because he's not going to go away in two months or three months. It's going to be more likely years before everybody's back where they need to be. They can help in endless ways. They can come to places like Mogo for holidays. They can put their business through here. They can send cash, of course, always, but in kind, there are ways that people bring their expertise to help communities that are doing it tough.

Richard: Well, I think it's fantastic to see you at the helm, Sir Peter, thank you for that on behalf of the nation, and thanks for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

Sir Peter: Thank you very much, Richard and Becky.

Richard: He's a great man, isn't he?


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