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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6197

Ms SAFFIN (5:28 PM) —The honourable member for Dunkley raised regional development and ACCs. I would like to give him a history lesson. When the coalition were elected to government, early in the piece, they sacked some of the then regional economic development organisations by email or by fax. In 1997, John Anderson was the minister responsible for regional development, and he axed the whole department. That is how important regional development was to the National Party and the coalition. So, when you make accusations, get your facts right—absolutely right. I have lived for a long time in a seat that the National Party held for nearly 100 years and did nothing for, delivered nothing to, but instead said one thing here and another thing back in the electorate.

The honourable member for Wide Bay then talked about rorts and frauds. The only rorts and frauds that were committed were political rorts and frauds by the National Party, in a declining party, in the regional seats.

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms SAFFIN —He raised it. I am telling the truth. You go around there appointing your senators to run around and tell lies all around the electorate. You have no commitment to regional development, none whatsoever. It is all a rort.

I commend the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government for the investment in national infrastructure, in nation building, in jobs and in my seat of Page, which did not have anything put into it for ages. I will start with the Alstonville bypass. The local community lobbied for the Alstonville bypass for 17 years. They were promised all sorts of things. Nobody ever delivered. This government and this minister are delivering $90 million. But the Leader of the National Party in New South Wales did not get this right either. On radio the other day he was talking about how it might be at risk under the state budget. Not a cent of it is from the state; it is all federal dollars—$90 million. That just shows how out of touch and ill informed they are. Ninety million dollars put into the Alstonville bypass will make a huge difference to our local community, where about 20,000 cars daily go through Alstonville. They will be able to deviate around Alstonville and make a difference.

Honourable members interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr AJ Schultz)—Order! If members want to confer, they should do so outside the chamber. The member for Page has the call.

Ms SAFFIN —I turn to the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program. This is a historic program. It is working with local government. We are looking at local priorities and responding to regional priorities, which local government and local representatives have their finger on. It is responding to those and it is funding those.

In my seat, I have five local governments: Ballina Shire Council, Clarence Valley Council, Kyogle Council, Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley Council. Under Community Infrastructure Program funding, we have a total of $4 million available for strategic projects. I have three of them, and one of them is in Evans Head. It is an aquatic centre. That is another project that the community worked for decades to get. No-one ever responded to it. They are now getting it. They raised money themselves. They are shovel-ready—ready to go. There is over $6 million.

Another project is Wherrett Park in Maclean. Maclean is actually in Cowper, the seat beside mine, but there is a border near Maclean and most of the people in Page access and use Maclean. There is over $2 million for the local sportsground there.

I will talk about some other projects in the seat of Page. The Grafton regional saleyards upgrade is a small investment, $125,000, but it makes a massive difference to an industry, our beef industry, that brings in lots of dollars to our local regional economy. This was an election commitment delivered in the first budget, the budget of 2008-09. When it was put to the National Party during the election that they should fund it, they said no. Can you imagine the National Party saying no to funding an upgrade to the saleyards for the beef industry? (Time expired)