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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1880


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (12:03): So the Labor Party dogfight rolls on: clawing, barking, yelping and biting. It is a cannibalistic fight for the top of the dog pile—and for what? To lead this government. It is certainly nothing to be proud of. Any association with today's Labor Party should be a cause for great embarrassment and shame. The dysfunction, the incompetence—the Midas touch in reverse, if you will—is very frightening indeed.

I have taken the opportunity to sift through the smoking pile of broken promises this government has left in its wake—and it is a big pile—to see if there is a disaster looming in my backyard, in my electorate. On the fringe of the pile is a project on the fringe of my electorate of Dawson: the Peak Downs Highway. The people of Mackay, my constituents, are frustrated. Their desperate pleas for investment and infrastructure are falling on deaf ears. Along with WA, Mackay is a wealth-producing region for this nation, yet we have Labor governments in Queensland and in Canberra who happily suck all the money out of the region with no regard for the sustainability of their economic bonanza. But be careful what you wish for. You could end up with a pink batts program in your neighbourhood. The federal government has promised $120 million towards the state controlled Peak Downs Highway, and I am wondering how they can turn this into a disaster. Incidentally, $120 million is only a third of the funding needed, according to the Road Accident Action Group, a key local group that is trying to fight against road fatalities. The former Rudd government said this funding was linked to the mining tax but there is something fishy about that claim. We know from the budget that $120 million has been allocated but we do not know over what time period. We know the government says $5.6 billion is to come from the mining tax but those proceeds are to flow from 2014-15 onwards. We know, from the government's Nation Building website, that the timetable for the Peak Downs highway upgrade states:

Construction is expected to commence early in 2014 and is scheduled for completion by early 2016.

Even if the expenditure did not occur until commencement, money would have to be spent in early 2014, this being the 2013-14 financial year. But the mining tax does not raise income until the 2014-15 financial year, so this project will not be funded from the mining tax—it just cannot be. But the government claims otherwise.

Where is the money coming from? Why have we been conned on where the money is coming from for the Peak Downs highway upgrade? Why, if it is not linked to the mining tax, is the highway upgrade happening after the next election? Why can't it happen how? The answer to all of these questions is that is just smoke and mirrors—another broken Labor promise, but this one is exposed before it is even broken. There will be no Peak Downs highway upgrade under this government because the money is not there to do it. This is such a very sly way to con the public on the Peak Downs highway.