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Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Page: 8241

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (21:35): I wish to commend the Prime Minister, who came to my electorate of Blair on 21 July 2011, for the commitment of a further $478 million towards repairing flood damaged roads in Ipswich and for the Lockyer Valley, which is now in the seat of Wright but used to be in the seat of Blair. This funding is part of Operation Queensland, the largest reconstruction task in the state's history. The funding will reconstruct sections of the highway between Ipswich and Toowoomba. A total of 62 kilometres between Marburg and Withcott on the Warrego Highway will be rebuilt.

The federal Labor government's response to the flood crisis has been swift, direct and generous. The floods damaged about 101 kilometres of road in Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley. The funding is essential for rural parts of my seat of Blair. Sixty per cent of Ipswich is rural. Farmers in the Lockyer Valley, small-business operators and the mums and dads who work in Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane rely on those roads. The ongoing road repair will create 1,400 jobs in the region over the next three years.

It is vital to understand that the flood reconstruction phase is really only beginning. What we have been doing since January 2011 is getting emergency repairs done to these roads. The roads that will be reconstructed include the Warrego Highway. The state LNP member for Lockyer has been campaigning for a long time on this issue, failing to acknowledge, of course, that the Howard government capped road funding for the Warrego Highway and that it was this government that massively increased the funding its repair and maintenance. The Warrego Highway is a particularly important highway for the electorate of Blair as it links Ipswich and Toowoomba. It is also important for the whole of South-East Queensland. The Warrego Highway will be fixed at various places as a result of the road reconstruction. The Karrabin-Rosewood Road, which is particularly important in rural parts of Ipswich, is an important road infrastructure project which needs to be repaired for the RAAF Base at Amberley.

The Lockyer Valley Regional Council mayor, Steve Jones, contacted me before the big flood hit around 10 January this year and asked me to engage with the federal Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon. Simon Crean. Minister Crean came out to the Lockyer Valley and Mount Sylvia, and the member for Wright tagged along. I was pleased to see him there. We talked to farmers. It was devastating to see what had happened. He also, at my request, met with the council CEOs and staff of Ipswich City Council, Somerset Regional Council and Scenic Rim Regional Council. We poured a lot of money into helping these councils with community infrastructure, bridges and roads, but it is particularly important that we note that this is critical to get South-East Queensland back on its feet.

The coalition, regrettably, has failed to support South-East Queensland in the recovery and reconstruction by failing to support the flood levy. I think the coalition has shown a pattern of contempt for Queensland in this regard. The Leader of the Opposition has made this crystal clear by his failure to understand the geography or the electoral demography of South-East Queensland and his failure to recognise the electorates which were damaged in the flood. The opposition to the one-off flood levy, which is the cost of a weekly cappuccino, is a disgrace. The opposition has failed to support the reconstruction of South-East Queensland.

The roads are being recovered and reconstructed because we made a commitment to do so against the opposition of those opposite who failed to care for the road infrastructure in South-East Queensland. They were promising for many years to duplicate the Toowoomba bypass, but their failure to do so showed contempt for the people of Toowoomba. The opposition treated them disgracefully by promising and promising and not actually delivering. There was a failure to fix the Blacksoil Interchange in Ipswich, which is crucial for all of South-East Queensland, for 11½ years. Again, they have shown contempt for the people of South-East Queensland with their opposition to the Ipswich Motorway reconstruction. Once again, roads are being fixed up in Ipswich and in the Lockyer Valley because the federal Labor government committed to road infrastructure in South-East Queensland against the opposition of those opposite. I cannot count the number of times the coalition have campaigned locally against road infrastructure like the Ipswich Motorway, like the Warrego Highway and like the Brisbane Valley in South-East Queensland. The coalition failed to fund these areas, which are particularly important. (Time expired)