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Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Page: 2060

Infrastructure


Mr COULTON (ParkesDeputy Speaker) (14:18): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on action the coalition government is taking to deliver job-creating infrastructure in rural and regional Australia. Is he aware of any alternatives?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Deputy Leader of the House and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC) (14:19): I thank the member for his question. He is a fine member. He represents an electorate of more than 393,000 square kilometres. He rather unkindly sometimes refers to other electorates as mere horse paddocks. Certainly it's the largest electorate in New South Wales. As a proud member and as a strong advocate for regional issues, I know he understands the importance of getting on with the job of investing in vital nation-building infrastructure. He knows that this infrastructure creates local jobs and fuels local economies. That's why this side of the House is investing in small and medium enterprises such that we're enabling them to create jobs—403,000 jobs just last year, as the Prime Minister mentioned a little earlier on. That is 1,100 jobs a day, and many of them were full-time jobs. The member for Parkes and I are from regional Australia and we are proud of it. Our areas stretch from the north of New South Wale, through the central west and to the Riverina.

We know our farmers will benefit from this government's investment in Inland Rail. Construction will start in coming months on the first section of the Inland Rail from Parkes to Narromine, with the Inland Rail delivering more than $480 million in economic benefit just to the central west region alone. On 15 January this year, the member for Parkes, the member for New England and I were at Peak Hill, where the first lot of steel was dropped off to start this iconic project—600 tonnes of steel was delivered on this historic day. Just to give you an idea of the enormous size of the Inland Rail project, it's going to use enough steel to build five Sydney Harbour Bridges. That's impressive. We know that the small businesses supporting our farmers in these regional communities will benefit from the economic growth the rail line will bring. There is $10 billion for the construction of the Inland Rail. It is the largest rail project by the Commonwealth in 100 years, thanks to a Liberal-Nationals government. It wouldn't have happened under those opposite.

We know that increasing economic activity leads to jobs growth, new opportunities and more money in hardworking Australians' pockets. I promise that for all those farmers and all those small-business people out there working hard to get ahead this government has their back. But what do those opposite want to do? They want to jack up taxes, they want to destroy jobs and they want to back the CFMEU in all the way. But don't take my word for it; just look at the front page of The Australian today. That's where the Labor and CFMEU deal is writ large.