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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1799

Infrastructure and Transport

Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (14:45): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure. I remind him of the government's commitment to upgrade Tasmania's major road and freight transport route, the Midland Highway that runs the length of my electorate of Lyons. Will the minister update the House on the progress he is making to make this transport route safer and encourage growth of freight exports?

Mr BRIGGS (MayoAssistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:46): Thank you to the member for Lyons for his question. How good it is to have a Liberal back in this House from Tasmania—and not just one, but three. Last week it was terrific to spend a day with the member for Lyons travelling down the Midland Highway. We saw how important it was for Tasmania that this road be upgraded. I can say to the member for Lyons that it is part of the Prime Minister's task to be the infrastructure Prime Minister and we will be upgrading the Midland Highway with $400 million. I am surprised that the one remaining Labor House of Representatives member in this place is opposed to that upgrade, and maybe that is why the people of Tasmania swung so heavily to the coalition in September. We all know that Tasmania is going through economic difficulty and we all know that is being caused by 16 years of bad Labor-Green administration. Hopefully, in March next year the people of Tasmania will change the composition of the Tasmanian parliament, because that state needs the investment; it needs the job creation; it needs to be part of the Roads of the 21st Century, which we will deliver under the stewardship of the infrastructure Prime Minister.

This is a very important project. The Midland Highway is a major freight and passenger route. It carries over two million tons of freight per year, valued at $2.3 billion and it is forecast to double by 2038 to 4.4 million tonnes. We will deliver these upgrades—$400 million worth of upgrades—as well as our package across the country. The WestConnex in Sydney is a project 30 years overdue. The boss of Bill recently supported the East-West Link in Melbourne with the comment that it is a project that needs to be delivered. The secretary of the AWU made the comment that East-West must be delivered, and, given he has given the instruction to his operator here, he must also back that project.

Mr Burke: I left it a moment, because I thought he might be asked to withdraw, but he is once again not referring to members by their title. He has been here long enough to know.

The SPEAKER: I would ask the assistant minister to address people by their proper title.

Mr BRIGGS: Sorry, Madam Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition has close ties to the AWU in Melbourne, and the AWU secretary in Melbourne said the East-West project is a project that must be delivered. Under the infrastructure Prime Minister, it will be delivered. Given the AWU's behind it, the Leader of the Opposition will be behind it and the Labor Party will be behind it. This is part of our agenda to deliver the Roads of the 21st Century under the infrastructure Prime Minister. Vitally important to Tasmania and its people is the package of $400 million for the Midland Highway.