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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1929

Regional Australia

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:26): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Minister, during the election you made a commitment to replace Regional Development Australia by spending $200 million a year under the National Stronger Regions Program. The recent announcement that RDA round 5 projects will not be honoured has serious implications for the people of Wodonga-Wangaratta-Rutherglen and other beautiful places in regional Australia. Our communities urgently need infrastructure. When can we expect details of the National Stronger Regions Fund to be announced so that all rural communities can get to work and start planning their future? (Time expired)

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:26): I compliment the honourable member on her maiden question. It is important that we talk about how we can build better futures for people who live in regional Australia. This government has a very substantial commitment to delivering for regional communities. The honourable member made the obvious point that this government has decided not to honour Labor's election promises made in round 5 of the RDAF. These were promises made in the days leading up to the election and during the election campaign itself and, in some instances, never announced at all.

Mr Albanese: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order going to relevance and to misleading. The Acting Prime Minister knows full well that these were not election promises; these are commitments in the budget.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member is engaging in debate and that is not permitted.

Mr TRUSS: The honourable member said they were commitments in the budget. The expenditure was in the budget but certainly the income was not; it was coming out of the mining tax, which did not raise any money. So these were not only election promises; they were also unfunded election promises. The honourable member will, however, be aware that the coalition government did make a lot of substantial promises to the electorate of Indi and we will honour those promises. They were our election promises. We will be delivering the $50,000 for the CCTV cameras in the Alpine Shire, the $5 million for a cardiac catheterisation laboratory in Albury-Wodonga, $150,000 towards a feasibility study for the Bright hospital, $1.4 million for local roads, and a Green Army project in Lake Hume, the Murray River and the Kiewa River. They are just a few of the things we have committed to specifically in Indi. We will also be funding the round 3 RDAF project in the member's electorate, which was not contracted by the previous government.

Ms King: So you should. I signed them in April!

Mr TRUSS: It was announced but never contracted. We are anxious to work with people of goodwill to deliver better outcomes to those who live outside the capital cities and our own National Stronger Regions Program will continue that good work into the years ahead. I would expect that next year we will have details of how that program will be operational but in the interim there are around 250 election promises which we have made for specific projects in local regions, which we will be delivering to electorates like Indi and others around the country.