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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3219

Road Infrastructure

Ms PRICE (Durack) (14:49): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. How will the government ensure that local councils continue to receive funds to upgrade and maintain local roads? How important is sound infrastructure to families and businesses in Western Australia and in my electorate of Durack and elsewhere?

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development) (14:50): May I compliment the member for Durack in her representations to deliver better roads to northern Western Australia. This government has responded with a substantial program of new roads and new construction projects in the region. Indeed, about half a billion dollars is being committed to new roadworks to benefit northern Western Australia, and that includes $307 million to upgrade the Great Northern Highway and $174 million to upgrade the North West Coastal Highway. Once more, this is real money. This is money that is budgeted for and funded—unlike the commitments that were made by those opposite, which the member for Lilley and the member for Grayndler said were conditional on funding from the mining tax. Labor was talking about projects, but they were never there to deliver them, because the funds were not available—they were conditional on money coming from the mining tax. But I am sure the member for Durack and the 47 councils that she represented would have been horrified earlier this week when they saw the Labor Party and the Greens combining in this House to oppose the continuation of the Roads to Recovery program. The Roads to Recovery program is vital for upgrading local roads and local streets, especially in the large areas represented by the member for Durack.

Labor and the Greens voted against this program. I find that just incredible. The member for Grayndler was not able to be here yesterday, but it did not stop him issuing a press release after the debate. In it he went to great lengths to say that Labor had actually funded Roads to Recovery into the future. It may have been on the expenditure side of the budget, but on the other side it was only debt.

The reality, and one would have thought the member for Grayndler would have known this, is that Labor's 2009 legislation terminates the Roads to Recovery program on 30 June this year. Their legislation terminates the Roads to Recovery program. This legislation is absolutely essential to implementing this side of the House's commitment to five more years of Roads to Recovery funding.

The councils of Australia need to be aware that if Labor and the Greens combine in the Senate to vote against this legislation again then there will be no Roads to Recovery program. There will be no vital funding to support their roadworks and street works around the country. It is a clear choice. You vote for senators who will approve the Roads to Recovery program if you want this vital program to continue.