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Thursday, 5 April 2001
Page: 26589

Mr HAWKER (2:43 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Could he outline to the House the government's recent achievements in transport and regional services, particularly the Roads to Recovery program, and is he aware of any alternatives?

Mr ANDERSON (Deputy Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question. It is now possible to fly between Brisbane and Melbourne for $54. We have two new entrants in the aviation market. They are launched, they are there and they are succeeding. They are filling up their aeroplanes, unlike what happened under Labor, and you can fly from Brisbane to Melbourne for $54. There are thousands and thousands of people travelling by air who could never have afforded it before. At the same time as we have done that, we have managed other important objectives—for example, that the people of regional New South Wales will continue to have fair and equitable access to Sydney airport even in the peak hours.

Then there is the historic $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery program, which continues to go from strength to strength. It was announced only four months ago and 75 per cent of all councils across Australia have registered. Around $45 million is already out there being used to upgrade roads as part of this very much needed program that fixes those roads that had become completely forgotten under Labor.

On the waterfront, our major ports have achieved what the ALP and its union bosses said Australians could not do. They said we could not move 25 containers on average per hour in Australia. We have achieved it. I think it verges on being un-Australian to say of your fellow Australians, `They can't achieve world's best.' We said Australians could, Labor said they could not, and we have done it.

We have listened to people living in rural and regional Australia and we have acted—and we have acted in a way that has given rural communities the tools and the ability to make their own decisions about their own futures, both socially and economically. There are alternative policies and—

Government member—What? You're joking!

Mr ANDERSON —With the ALP you look at what they do, not what they say. Unfortunately, you can neither listen to what the federal ALP would do nor read it. For all the work that the member for Dickson was going to do when the regional policy was about to appear—it was nearly ready; we never saw it—

Mr ANDERSON —It was! It was done. It was about to appear. But when the member for Batman came into the office he said that there was nothing there. He said that the cupboard was bare. The member for Dickson would not share the regional policy with the member for Batman.

Mr Costello —Would you?

Mr ANDERSON —I don't know. It might have been worse sharing with the member for Batman, because going on the ALP's record it was probably our policy anyway. It was probably plagiarism. Obviously, the member for Batman had to start again from scratch. He has been there for quite a while, but we still have not heard anything from him. Nor have we heard anything in some other important areas of rural and regional policy. On telecommunications, all we get is the member for slander—I mean the member for Swan—talking about the issue of ownership, never about a policy that might deliver better telecommunications outcomes for rural and regional Australians. Then there is health. Where are they on rural health? They were responsible for the lack of policy and the lack of resources that has seen us some 500 doctors short across regional and rural Australia, and probably 800 to 900 specialists short. Where is their rural health policy?

You cannot read what they put down in policy or listen to what they say because they have not got policies, but you can get a pretty fair idea of what the bush would have in store for it by looking at what they do at state level. Over in Western Australia, as the member for O'Connor would be aware, the ALP has been in power for two months, and that is all it took to close the air service to Busselton. The impact on tourism in that fast growing region can only be imagined. Then there is the Bracks government: promises everywhere for rural and regional Australia, as the member for Wannon knows.

Mr O'Connor —And been delivered.

Mr ANDERSON —They have been delivered, have they? What about that fast train service to Ballarat that they were talking about? Where did it go? Then there is New South Wales. Where has New South Wales been? Let me come to health. What has the New South Wales government been doing at Mudgee in my electorate? We had to drag it kicking and screaming to ensure that you could actually have a baby in Mudgee instead of having to go 150 kilometres to Dubbo. It would not grapple with the problem of indemnity.

Mr Howard —I haven't had a baby in Mudgee.

Mr ANDERSON —Well, there you go. Then there has been its refusal to meet its responsibilities on water property rights with disastrous outcomes for environmental reform and for local communities. It does not give a damn about anybody who lives west of the sandstone curtain in that state. The policies of the state Labor governments around the country are clear signs of what federal Labor would do to the bush. They would dictate policy from the comfortable cafés of Manuka, Kingston and Balmain rather than be out there in Albury, Charleville and Gunnedah.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr Beazley —We're a dictator from Red Hill, are we?

Government members—Oh!

Mr SPEAKER —I call the House to order.