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Thursday, 1 August 2019
Page: 1828

Regional Development


Dr WEBSTER (Mallee) (14:20): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on how the Morrison and McCormack government is on the side of Australians who choose to live and work in rural and regional Australia?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (14:20): I thank the member for Mallee for her question. I thank her for her first question in this House—the first of many. What an outstanding inaugural speech she made earlier in which she set out the plan for the Liberals and Nationals, particularly for regional Australia, and also some of her own visions and ideas that will make regional Australia a better place in which to live, work and invest.

The member for Mallee has an outstanding public record of supporting her local community. She was the founder, former director and patron of Mildura based Zoe Support, a not-for-profit organisation providing prebirth support for young women and, post birth, connecting them with social and educational programs, getting them back in the workforce and building a better future for them. She's been a champion of women, the member for Mallee, and she's going to be a champion for the people of Mallee.

The government is delivering on its vision for regional Australia. We're establishing a House of Representatives select committee that will examine the future needs of the regions. It will bring together the vast stories and experiences of how regional economies are diversifying, how regional industries are finding their way and how regional communities are boosting their resilience and hope and working together collaboratively and cooperatively to secure their future. When the regions are strong, so too is our nation. The member for Lyne says that all the time, and he's right. The new committee will be chaired by the member for Barker, who like all of the rest of us on this side of the House wants to see our regional communities continue to flow and flourish.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: The member for Hunter can participate on that committee if he's so selected. The good people of Mallee know their member has come to this place to advocate for them and their needs. Whether it's the $60 million Swan Hill bridge, the $2.5 million Cohuna Airport upgrade or the $1.5 million upgrade of the Horsham livestock exchange, we are backing, and the member for Mallee is backing, those fine Victorians.

The significance of our investment in regional Australia was best summed up by the mayor of Mildura, Simon Clemence, when I announced a $2 million instrument landing system for the Mildura Airport. In the scheme of $100 billion infrastructure and investment in our nation, $2 million mightn't sound that much, but he said that it was probably the biggest investment in Mildura's future there has ever been. This investment will support an estimated 600 international flight students and inject up to $90 million worth of economic activity into the local economy. Already, there have been expressions of interest from six potential flight schools and pilot academies in coming to Mildura, boosting the economy and boosting the economies of the surrounding towns as well.

Since we came to government in 2013, we have committed almost $33 billion to economic and social infrastructure programs that specifically benefit rural and regional Australia. Rural and regional Australians can certainly depend on the Liberals and Nationals to have their backs. (Time expired)