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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2541

Mr SCHULTZ (3:37 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. I refer the minister to the government’s recent debt package which included funding for maintenance of Australia’s national highways. As minister with responsibility for Australia’s two major links between Sydney and Melbourne, is the minister aware that the New South Wales government has approved BHP Billiton mining for coal under the southern rail line in the Hume Highway but refused to guarantee that mining will not cause subsidence damage, even though BHP has predicted damage will occur? Minister, isn’t the government’s debt package really targeted at fixing the ongoing damage caused by the actions of state Labor governments?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —What a confused question from the member for Hume—a confused question from a confused opposition when it comes to nation building. He asked me questions about the Hume Highway. I will tell the honourable member about the Hume Highway. We are investing $950 million on the Hume Highway, a record investment. I have visited the Hume with the member for Riverina, inspecting the works of the Rudd government on the Hume Highway—

Mr Schultz —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point order centred on relevance. The question was asked about mining under the Hume Highway and subsidence.

The SPEAKER —The member, in his question, had a preamble. So far, the minister has been relevant to the question.

Mr ALBANESE —I got asked about the Hume Highway and I am answering about the Rudd government’s proud record of record investment in the Hume Highway—just like we have record investment in the Pacific and the Bruce highways. In May, I will be visiting the Hume Highway to open a number of projects with the member for Riverina—who has a much more constructive attitude towards that important highway than her colleague the member for Hume.