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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 7993

Regional Development

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts. How is the government spreading the benefits in our economy to support the regions? How are the regions responding to this investment?

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (15:08): I thank the member for Kingston. I know what a champion she is not just for regional Australia but for her own community, and the initiatives we have put in there—the new library, the trade training centre—and the way the National Broadband Network is working for her is testament to that work. Hers is a region where, every time you go to it, it contrasts the negativity that you get in this House from that side of the chamber. Everywhere you go in the region you have people that are positive about the future—challenged by it, yes, but they see opportunity in it and they are not buying the fear campaign. In her home state this cannot be told better than by the city of Whyalla.

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Casey will leave the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Casey then left the chamber.

Mr CREAN: This, after all, was the city that the Leader of the Opposition went to on 27 April 2011 and had this to say:

Whyalla will be wiped off the map by … carbon tax. … Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland … it's also true of Port Pirie … Gladstone … Hunter Valley … Illawarra … Kwinana … Latrobe Valley, Portland …

There'd be nothing left under this bloke. This is the doom and gloom that he preaches.

But what are the facts? It is interesting that the leader has not been back to Whyalla since he made that prediction. I have been back four times and I have seen the magnificent growth that is taking place there. The rare earths industry—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, I refer you to page 553 of Practice which clearly states that it shall be an irrelevancy for the contrasting of government and opposition policies. Clearly, previous Speakers have been told the minister may not proceed. I would ask you to uphold that ruling.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will resume her seat. The minister has the call.

Mr CREAN: I was making a point about the rare earths industry, the port development, the fertiliser and nitrate plants. This is hundreds of jobs and billions worth of investment taking place. In fact, it is very interesting that today in the Whyalla Times we have 'Population on the rise in Whyalla'. Some ghost town, some wipe-out—and this is what the gloom and doom that the Leader of the Opposition preaches is all about! I would suggest that he stops the fear campaign, that he understands there is a responsibility on all of us in this chamber to face the challenges that this nation faces, but to do it constructively, do it with a spirit of enterprise, do it with a spirit of conviction and do it with a spirit of purpose and opportunity, not the fear campaign.

The Leader of the Opposition is a hollow man. The Leader of the Opposition stands for nothing. He opposes everything. What regional development wants is a positive constructive approach. They will get it from us, but they will not get from you.

Ms Gillard: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.