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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4062

Ms REA (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline how the government is supporting jobs today by investing in the nation-building infrastructure of tomorrow to lift Australia out of recession as rapidly as possible?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for Bonner for her question because it goes to building the economy up in the part of Brisbane that she represents. The government is seeking to build the economy up in the electorates of all members in this place, even though a large slice of them chose to vote against these measures. Let us take the electorate of Bonner, which the honourable member represents. The government’s Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan is currently supporting 103 projects in the electorate of Bonner—a $29.9 million investment in the honourable member’s electorate. This includes 101 projects under the Building the Education Revolution program, the single largest school modernisation program in Australia’s history. It also includes black spot projects right across the country—in the case of the electorate of Bonner and Brisbane, a $1.25 million investment.

These practical projects are the way in which we are building the economy up, while those opposite are embarked upon a strategy to talk the economy down. Right across the country, the government’s nation building for recovery plan is about to launch 35,000 projects by year’s end. Already in the case of rail and road, $135 million has been spent on the Hunter Valley to Newcastle rail track to transport coal—150 jobs in the Hunter region. Already, work has begun on the line between Maroona and the South Australian border and the line between Albury and Seymour in Victoria, two rail projects worth 240 jobs. The first of 301,000 new concrete railway sleepers have been unloaded near Parkes for the Cootamundra to Parkes track upgrade. Work continues on the $164 million Midland Highway Brighton bypass project in Tasmania. The bypass and associated transport hub are expected to provide up to 380 jobs in Tasmania. That is simply in rail and road.

In social housing, construction of the first new house built under the stimulus plan has now been completed. The house was built in 13 weeks with a total of 52 people involved in the building works, which also included three apprentices. Work has also commenced on site for 29 new housing construction projects in Tasmania, 45 construction projects in New South Wales and 42 new ones in Western Australia.

In the National School Pride Program, where every school in the country is being allocated between $50,000 and $200,000 for maintenance and repairs, projects are beginning right across the nation. The Primary Schools for the 21st Century program has already commenced early work on more than 300 schools around Australia as part of round 1 of what will be the largest school modernisation program in Australia’s history. Community infrastructure is being built, with 137 councils being funded to build and renew community infrastructure right across the country, including sporting infrastructure. In energy efficiency, 20,000 Australian homeowners have had ceiling insulation installed in their homes and more than 20,000 homeowners have installed a solar hot water system under the stimulus plan’s energy efficiency program. These are the practical projects that are underway at present. This is what we are engaged in nationwide. This is practical work to build the economy up, not to tear the economy down.

If you were wandering around the country last week and listening to what the Leader of the Opposition and the member for North Sydney were saying, you would have heard one diatribe of negativity. Every single interview was aimed at talking the economy down, talking confidence down and therefore talking the performance of our economy down. Our nation building for recovery plan is about building the economy up. We are supporting jobs, small business and apprenticeships today by investing in the infrastructure Australia needs for tomorrow. That is why we as the government have stepped in to fill the gap which has been left by the private sector in retreat. That is why we have invested nearly 70 per cent of the government’s stimulus strategy in nation-building infrastructure. That is the strategy that we have embarked upon. Those opposite, however, are embarked upon a negative scare campaign on deficit and debt with a view to talking the economy down. We have a nation building for recovery plan. The government is proud of it. We are getting on with the business of making an impact on the global economic recession, a recession which is causing havoc across every economy in the world, and that is why Australia is doing better than most other economies in the world.