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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 760

Mr BIDGOOD (6:02 PM) —I rise to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2009-2010 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2009-2010. The Rudd Labor government is delivering for Dawson. That is the good news for the people of Dawson. The Rudd Labor government has delivered more in two years than the previous National Party member delivered in 11 years. In the past few years, working alongside fellow Queenslander Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan, the federal government has secured more funding than ever before for our electorate. The electorate of Dawson has received record funding on such things as local community infrastructure, the Bruce Highway, health, schools and education. The Rudd Labor government is truly delivering for Dawson.

The Rudd Labor government have delivered $95 million over five years towards the southern port access road in my electorate in southern Townsville. Just last month I was with Minister Anthony Albanese and Queensland Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace at the opening of stage 1 in my electorate. This road will take 500 trucks a day off of local roads in Stuart and Wulguru, with 960 direct and indirect jobs sustained over the life of the entire Townsville Port Access Road Project. More has been delivered on funding the Bruce Highway in the last two years than in the previous five years of the Howard government. That is what I call truly delivering for Dawson.

I am proud of the success of the Caring for our Country program. The Reef Rescue component of Caring for Our Country is comprised of five integrated components: water quality grants of $146 million over five years, which is good news for the people of Dawson; reef partnerships of $12 million over five years, which is another excellent factor delivering for Dawson; land and sea country Indigenous partnerships of $10 million over five years; reef water quality research and development of $10 million over five years; and water quality monitoring and reporting, including the publication of an annual Great Barrier Reef water quality report card, worth $22 million over five years—truly delivering for the people of Dawson. Farmers have benefited greatly from this direct assistance. It is assistance that the National Party could never deliver for farmers in Dawson. Our agriculture minister, Tony Burke, has seen first-hand the good work of farmers in my electorate of Dawson and I would like to put on record my thanks to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for the time he took early on in my term in government to come to the people of Ayr and the Burdekin and visit the sugar cane community there. The local people said that it was amazing that they had never had the minister for agriculture in the previous 11 years come to their town, their homes and their farms and see first-hand what their small community is doing in adding to the bottom line of this nation’s wealth. Even though the other side there mock it, cane is actually one of our chief exports—sugar is a major export—and the people of Dawson, in cane, mining, cattle and tourism, are adding to the bottom line of this nation, and we are doing it in spades.

Tony Burke, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has seen the innovations and the investments in smart technologies that make the farmers’ farms more productive, and they protect the Great Barrier Reef. They have improved the health of the reef and the productivity of their farms. Today I had a call from the CEO of Mackay Sugar and he was absolutely ecstatic that today they are signing up a $120 million cogeneration project, which has been made possible by the decisions of this Rudd Labor government in raising the renewable energy target to 20 per cent from a measly two per cent by the previous coalition government. We have enabled Mackay Sugar to go online and today to sign for the start of that project. This is truly good news for the environment, good news for renewable energy and good news for adding value to the sugar industry in the seat of Dawson. The RET scheme, which will deliver a 20 per cent target for renewable sources by 2020, has allowed Mackay Sugar to start building this viable $120 million cogeneration plant at the Racecourse mill, because they have a guaranteed market for their electricity. For the information of the members here, they will produce enough renewable energy to supply Mackay with 33 per cent of its electricity needs, year in, year out. That is an excellent solution.

The Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, has seen this first-hand together with the Mackay Sugar chair, Eddie Westcott, and the board. This fantastic project has been on the drawing board—wait for it!—for 11 years. Eleven years of National Party representation failed to deliver in adding value to the sugar industry and failed to protect the environment by producing renewable energy and supplying Mackay with one-third of its electricity needs. But guess what? Within two years this Rudd Labor government has enabled Mackay Sugar to sign today the deal to commence work on a $120 million renewable energy project. I am truly proud to be part of this government that gets things done and truly does deliver for the people of Dawson.

We have also delivered on all of our election commitments in the seat of Dawson: $14 million for the Mining Technology Innovation Centre, the Australian centre for mining innovation, based in Mackay. Mackay is a service mining town to the Bowen Basin mining area. That is a fantastic achievement. Then there is $4 million for the Mackay Aquatic Park, which was often spoken about by the National Party former member but they never actually delivered the $4 million in any election. We did it.

We committed $50 million for the Bruce Highway upgrades in South Mackay and delivered, once again. We committed $25 million in funding for the Burdekin Bridge over four years. Something which I am particularly proud of—and again, the previous National Party federal member for Dawson went to two elections promising to fund a Mackay rugby league stadium and failed to deliver—we, the Rudd Labor government, have delivered $8.8 million for the Mackay rugby league multipurpose stadium. The people of Mackay and the seat of Dawson rejoice over that decision.

We also delivered $112,000 for the Dolphins’ soccer clubhouse and $1.3 million for sporting infrastructure for the Harrup Park Country Club. Also, we have a stimulus package, which the other side of politics voted totally against, which delivered to the people of Dawson 585 projects totalling $135,610,000, including $121,247,000 for every one of our 73 schools in over 277 projects. Then, of course, there is the Bluewater Trail in Mackay, worth $2.97 million—another great delivery to the people of Mackay and the people of Dawson. There have been moneys to councils for regional and local community infrastructure, $1.99 million; the Better TAFE Facilities Program, four projects worth $2.63 million; the Mackay TAFE refurbishment, $2.645 million; shade structures over Mackay regional council parks, worth over $1 million; and $743,000 for Cannonvale and Bowen bike paths, including $518,000 to build a shared 4.5 kilometre pathway for the Bowen Front Beach to Sports Complex Cycle Link Project. Again, these were delivered by the Rudd Labor government.

We have delivered $225,000 towards the Cannonvale pedestrian bike path route project to link a major tourist resort and a residential area to the Whitsunday Shopping Centre; trade training centres; $3 million for Mackay Christian College, Carlisle Christian College and Whitsunday Anglican School; and $5.9 million towards the combined Mackay state high schools facility at Central Queensland University. This is truly delivering for the people of Dawson—delivering in areas in which the previous National Party representative did not deliver at all.

We have delivered funding for computers in schools—125 computers for Mercy College, 105 for Bowen State High School, 269 for Mackay State High School, 187 for St Patrick’s and 67 for Burdekin Catholic High School. And there is more, oh yes, there is a lot more being delivered. In Townsville I lobbied hard to deliver the funding for the Flinders Street Mall. That upgrade, with the Commonwealth’s contribution, is worth $16.2 million. And guess what? I lobbied hard with the Mayor of Townsville, Les Tyrell, to deliver $16.2 million. Why? Because the member for Herbert was absent, but the member for Dawson delivered for the people of Herbert and the people of central Townsville $16.2 million. Why? Because of an ineffectual Liberal Party member over there.

It is not just these commitments that have been delivered. The Rudd Labor government proves day in and day out the everyday real commitment and representation to the seat. We deliver. We have a clear agenda and a clear objective and we have the political will and determination to deliver, deliver, deliver for everyday working people.

Following the 2008 floods, along with all levels of government, we provided financial assistance, which was matched by state disaster relief, for the thousands of residents—8,000 homes in total were affected—of Mackay who were flooded out and lost everything. Thousands of homes and businesses were completely wiped out. The federal office of Dawson in Mackay was also flooded out, and we ended up having to move a year later, because it was simply unworkable. We ended up working out of my house for something like six months, because no other premises were available. Many, many businesses were affected.

So thousands of homes and businesses were wiped out due to the flooding, including my electoral office. Though we were flooded out, we did not stop. We needed to be there for our constituents in need. My staff and I operated the electoral office from my home for months. I want to put on record today the dedication of my staff. I want to name each one of them. There is the office manager, Jane Casey; at front reception, there is Adel Howland; there is my media manager, Andrea Pozza; there is my research assistant, James Sullivan; and there is our casual worker, John Pollitt. I want to say thank you to all of my electoral staff for their work through the most trying and harrowing of times.

I was elected in November 2007 and had no facilities to work from February 2008 until we got into new premises much later. They worked as a team. They came together and we did not stop serving the people of Dawson. We in the Labor Party are committed to helping working people, small businesses and community. I want to thank my staff from the bottom of my heart. Through very hard and tough times, we kept on. That is the Labor way. We do not stop. We have a clear goal, we have a clear vision and we have clear work to do and we will never stop serving the everyday people of this nation. My staff have stuck with me from the very beginning. They are loyal. I want to thank them for what they helped me do even through the disruptions. I thank them very much.

As a united team, this government has delivered also. We have delivered extra funding for the Youth Information Resource Service, a service that provides help for young people in crisis and, particularly at a time when we had a spate of youth suicides, this government—through the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and through Jenny Macklin—provided an extra $200,000 emergency funding to help with that terrible situation. I thank them for that. We have provided extra funding for volunteer groups, veterans, pensioner groups and tourism ventures.

I am grateful to the cabinet for holding two community cabinets in my community, in Mackay in 2008 and in Townsville in 2009. I love community cabinets. It is grassroots democracy. It is speaking to the people. This is direct democracy and this direct democracy has ensured that stakeholder groups and constituents can be heard by the Commonwealth government.

Finally, I would like to say that the people of Dawson have for far too long been left out—hung out to dry—by an out of touch National Party. They are totally out of touch. It is an honour to serve the people of Dawson. I promise to work hard to continue to deliver for the people of Dawson. Whatever happens, I do not want to see the National Party take the seat of Dawson again. As you would know, I have announced that at the end of this term I will be stepping down for reasons of ill health. I promise that right up until then I will continue to give 110 per cent. I will not stop serving everyday ordinary people. I will not stop serving small businesses. It is an honour to do that. I can only say that the joy that I have seen on people’s faces has made it all worth while. I commend these bills to the House.