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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7269

Infrastructure


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (14:09): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Minister, how is the government investing in infrastructure to build a stronger economy and a better future for our nation?


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (14:09): I thank the member for Page for her question. Earlier this month we announced preconstruction planning to get the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway shovel ready. It goes along with the work that is taking place on the Pacific Highway right up and down the north coast of New South Wales. I am proud today that I announced prior to question time the opening of the Bulahdelah bypass, just in time for the school holidays. We on this side of the House understand the importance of nation-building infrastructure for boosting productivity, for reducing travel times and, importantly, also for road safety.

I am reminded of a day I had with the then Prime Minister and the then Treasurer on the Cooroy to Curra section of the Bruce Highway in Queensland. There I had a delegation, just prior to the budget when we were dealing with the global financial crisis here in Parliament House, and I met a gentleman by the name of Wayne Sachs. Wayne Sachs is the chief ambo in Gympie. What Wayne Sachs did was go through in a very human way the reality of what it is like to be an ambulance driver, whether it be in the area around the Bruce Highway, the Pacific Highway, the Midland Highway in Tasmania or any of our other major roads, where they have to see more tragedies in life than most of us. That is why I am very proud of our investment in the Pacific Highway and of our investment in the Bruce Highway. I was also proud to be with the then Prime Minister on the weekend at the Hume Highway opening, celebrating the completion of the duplication of the Hume Highway.

We have nation-building infrastructure projects right around the nation. We have committed $60 billion in the Nation Building Program but of course as well we have the National Broadband Network that is overcoming the tyranny of distance which Australia has been disadvantaged by, whether it be across our vast land or whether it be competing with our international neighbours. The fact is that this is a government that has a plan for nation building. We have a plan for infrastructure. That is why we have put in place the Infrastructure Australia process so we get proper advice, something that those on the opposite side of the House seem to have forgotten even exists. That is why we are investing not just in nation-building road projects but also, importantly, in urban rail projects and in freight rail.