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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11374

Water Infrastructure


Mr O'DOWD (FlynnDeputy Nationals Whip) (14:42): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the minister update the House on how a strong economy allows the government to build better water infrastructure, back our farmers and help regional Australia grow? What are the risks for farmers from different approaches?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (14:42): Picture this: last Monday the member for Flynn and I were at a press conference, and in the background was the beautiful harbour at Gladstone. What a busy and industrious place that is. There were ships there, cranes there, workers in high-vis there—it was a picture to behold.

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen will cease interjecting!

Mr McCORMACK: It was an absolute picture to behold. And we—the Liberals and Nationals—want to make it an even busier harbour. We want to make it an even more industrious port. That's why, at that press conference, we announced half a billion dollars of extra money for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. The previous day, the member for Flynn and I were on a red, rocky, windswept ridge at Emerald. Picture this—I'm giving you great picture of what it was like: there we were, with Alan Stent-Smith, turning the first sod for a wonderful project—an inland port—taking in those rail and road logistics. What a wonderful project that will be.

The minister for agriculture, the members of the National Party, the Libs—we all understand that to grow better food and more fibre, the very best in the world, all you need to do is add more water. That's why we're investing in flood mitigation projects, droughtproofing projects and projects that are going to store more water. This is so great for regional Australia.

I know how onboard the member for Flynn is. Projects such as modernising the Fairbairn Dam at Emerald and helping to examine agricultural opportunities in the Burnett -these things have been championed by the member for Flynn and the member for Wide Bay. We're getting on. We are delivering. It's going to create more wealth, a better future and more jobs in regional Australia, but, indeed, it is good for the nation. That's why we're getting on and we're doing it.

I'm asked by the member for Flynn: what are the risks against this? I see them right before me. They're not in favour.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I can hear the member for Hunter. Why would you be yelling out about us investing $500 million in more water-storage infrastructure? What would you have against that? I just don't understand that. You know what? People in regional Australia don't understand why you're not in favour of those things either. They do not understand. We're getting on and we're building it. You can point to the projects that we're getting on and building, such as the Rookwood Weir in the member for Capricornia's electorate—$176.1 million working with the Queensland government. We're prepared to work with state governments that want to work with us. The Scottsdale Irrigation Scheme in Tasmania—$25.27 million. It's good investment, it's going to create more jobs and you can do it because we've got a strong economy. That's when you can get on and build these things. When you've got a strong economy, you can do these things—you can build, you can develop, and you can increase wealth, prosperity and jobs. (Time expired)