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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2853

Mr HOGAN (Page) (19:35): Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I am sure you are very aware, even though you are a Queenslander, that on Saturday week there will be an election in New South Wales—and a very important election, as they all are. We only have to go back four years and we can all remember the state of New South Wales after Labor had been in office for 16 years. To be as kind as I could, I would have to say that at the very least they had lost their way and the state was suffering as a result. In the four years we have had now of coalition government in New South Wales, much has changed for the better of the state.

I would like to talk tonight about some of my state colleagues and what they have been doing to deliver real infrastructure and real improvements to the northern rivers of New South Wales. I will start in the state electorate of Lismore. The member there, Thomas George, has been in that seat for 16 years—a very loved and very popular local MP. I will not run through them all because I would not be able to do it in five minutes, but I will run through some of the major commitments that the coalition and the state Nationals in my region are making at this election. Thomas George has committed $180 million to stage 3B of the Lismore Base Hospital. This is going to be a complete refurbishment, there will be extra beds and it will bring the Lismore Base Hospital up to a wonderful standard. He is also committing money to a multipurpose health centre at Bonalbo, which is going to be very important to the Bonalbo community, and he is making many other commitments in relation to roads and infrastructure around the electorate.

The candidate in Ballina is Kris Beavis. Kris was previously the CEO of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, and also the president of the Ballina surf lifesaving club. He is a great candidate for us. I would not be able to run through all the commitments that he has made, but they include $50 million to a new super school in Ballina, which crosses a few electorate boundaries. They are also making a commitment to apply—there is a $50 million pot—to build rail trails in New South Wales. The rail trail that is proposed in the Northern Rivers would start in Casino and work its way through Lismore, Byron Bay and up to Murwillumbah. This will bring a whole new tourist dollar to the Northern Rivers. It would also, obviously, have a lot of spin-offs with other cottage industries along the trail. It is a very exciting proposal and, again, would be a great piece of new tourism infrastructure for our region.

The other state electorate that fits within Page is Clarence. The member there, Chris Gulaptis, who is a good man, has made some amazing infrastructure commitments on behalf of the state Nationals. He has made a commitment of $150-odd million for a new bridge in Grafton, which is an exceptionally important piece of infrastructure for Grafton that they have been waiting for for many years; and also, millions of dollars to build a new HealthOne precinct at Coraki after the previous Labor government closed the hospital there.

They are just a sample of some of the election commitments. The state Nationals also made sure that Essential Energy, which is the energy provider in our region, would not be leased but would stay in state ownership. They have secured the public ownership of the electricity supplier but have made sure that they have got some of the money by leasing some of the city poles and wires. They are also helping us with a 20 per cent contribution to the Pacific Highway upgrade, a major piece of infrastructure in our region. That is a $7 billion commitment by both governments. We are funding that with over $5 billion and their contribution is just a little short of $2 billion—again, a major contribution there from the state government.

We are all very aware that infrastructure is important. The state Nationals in this election campaign are certainly doing that. I would also like to make the comment that CSG is a very hot issue in that part of the world. I would just make the point that the previous state government issued the licences. The coalition government has suspended Metgasco's licence in our region and purchased back others.