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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8521

Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (17:58): I acknowledge the previous speaker's points in relation to regional Australia and the importance of good roads that save lives. It is true that we have a lot of road-building to do, but I thank the member for Forrest for moving this important motion and bringing to the attention of the chamber this issue of the need for infrastructure investment as it gives me the opportunity to expose some of the false and misleading claims by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. The previous speaker talked about the Bruce Highway. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, I remember coalition members congratulating Labor on their previous investment in the Bruce Highway, which was four times that of the coalition.

I'm very sorry to say that this lack of commitment to investment in infrastructure extends to the Northern Territory. We heard the honourable member say, 'What about regional areas?' I come from a regional area, the Northern Territory. It's had a 75 per cent reduction in infrastructure spending over the forward estimates. That's in the latest budget. That's for the Northern Territory, not Canberra. All jurisdictions need funding for infrastructure, because it grows the economy. Canberra needs it; the Territory needs it. Quite frankly, territorians, whether they be in the ACT or in the Northern Territory, are sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens by this muppet government and those opposite.

I do support the motion's first paragraph, because Labor too recognises the importance of infrastructure to the nation's future prosperity. However, I can't support the spurious claims made in the rest of the motion. Frankly, I'm surprised at the audacity—perhaps naivety—of the member for Forrest in bringing forward this motion, which exposes the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison muppet government's neglect of investment in infrastructure for our nation's future. As has become abundantly clear and as those opposite understand, this government, in what has culminated over the past few weeks, has shown that it has absolute interest only in its own survival and in clinging to office, with no interest whatsoever in the future of the nation. Infrastructure—roads, rail and ports—takes years to plan and build, beyond three-year parliamentary terms. It needs vision to look at the longer term. The previous speaker talked about linking up infrastructure. I am not an expert on the inland rail, but I understand that it doesn't actually link anything to any ports whatsoever. Perhaps its purpose is different, other than the national interest.

It's pretty clear that this government doesn't have a 10-year plan. We have seen recently with leaks in the Herald Sun that have come from the coalition government that it is only going to release details on infrastructure plans when it suits it politically. Regardless of regional businesses in the Northern Territory—in Darwin and Palmerston, the electorate that I represent—it has already been 510 days since a city deal was promised. This is infrastructure for Darwin that was promised 510 days ago, but the leaks from inside the current federal government tell us that it is only interested in cynical politicking and will only announce its commitment to our city deal during the election. I hope the election is in the next couple of months, but it may be as much as nine months away, and this government is going to hold on to this infrastructure announcement until then. That doesn't speak to the national interest. It doesn't speak to the importance of Darwin, as the northern capital of Australia, to be a real driving engine of the Australian economy. It just reeks of the politics that those opposite have shown us in spades in the last month.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Gee ): The time allotted for this debate has now expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.