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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4065

Mr RIPOLL (2:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How is the government supporting local economies by investing in the nation’s road infrastructure and how does this compare to previous investments?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Oxley for his question. Indeed, I note that through the government’s Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan there are some 135 smaller infrastructure projects taking place in his electorate, costing some $54.4 million. Each of these projects is supporting local jobs, stimulating the local economy and leaving the electorate of Oxley and the greater Ipswich area an even better placed to live. This includes some 109 projects under the Building the Education Revolution plan, the biggest school modernisation plan in the nation’s history. It includes two black spots projects at a cost of $1.4 million. It is worth noting with regard to these projects in Oxley that many of these projects are underway right now. If those opposite had their way, none of these projects would be proceeding—none of them.

There is one big project underway as well that will affect the electorate of Oxley—as well as, of course, the electorate of Blair, the electorate of Moreton and other electorates in Brisbane—and that is the Ipswich Motorway. For the Ipswich Motorway upgrade, which was opposed by those opposite, $2.5 billion was provided by this side of parliament in order to ease urban traffic congestion in the western suburbs of Brisbane. The Prime Minister and I—with you, Member for Oxley, and the member for Blair and others—turned the first sod on 2 March 2008, just 14 months ago. We returned to where the works are taking place on the Friday after last sitting period, and there the people managing the site told us that 4,000 Australians had been inducted into the work on that site alone. That is 4,000 put to work building the nation, building the economic recovery. This project, of course, is all part of the N1, building a modern highway network from Melbourne all the way to Cairns, both through the main highways and through the feeder networks. There is also $2.6 billion into the Bruce Highway, double what the previous government contributed over 12 years, and for the Pacific Highway, $3.1 billion from this side of the House in six years against $1.3 billion from those opposite over 12 long years—and it runs through most of their electorates.

Today I, along with the member for Riverina, attended the latest milestone in the duplication of the Hume: the opening of the new $78 million Sheahan Bridge duplication over the Murrumbidgee at Gundagai. That was two months ahead of schedule and on budget. In the December stimulus package we brought forward $490 million to accelerate work on the Tarcutta and Woomargama bypasses, bringing forward that work to create jobs now to make the Australian economy more productive. All of these plans were opposed by those opposite. We do need nation building for recovery. The government understands that and that is why we are getting on with the job of delivering it.