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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4304

Mr FITZGIBBON (HunterChief Government Whip) (13:55): I would like to congratulate the Treasurer on a responsible and indeed historic budget, with great initiatives in health care, aged care and education and of course a National Disability Insurance Scheme. There has been some commentary in the Hunter that what was lacking was new infrastructure projects. I remind those listening from the Hunter that in recent years we have had record spending on physical infrastructure. Indeed, last night, there was $190 million to continue the Hunter expressway.

I also point out there are currently no shovel-ready projects to be funded—but there will be. That is why the mining tax is so important—returning the benefits of the boom back to the physical infrastructure in the region from which the money comes. But there is one big threat, and that is the New South Wales government, which is threatening to increase royalties to offset the mining tax—which means that the government would have to compensate the New South Wales government. That will be money taken away from Hunter region infrastructure projects to be spent on projects in and around Sydney. My community and communities generally in the Hunter region should reject the idea of the New South Wales government raising royalties and in so denying opportunities in the Hunter for funding for physical infrastructure projects which are so badly needed and so connected to the mining boom itself. Some of our highways are car parks because of the impact of and the growth in the mining sector— (Time expired)