Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 17 June 2021
Page: 90


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of the Nationals) (11:10): The member for Ballarat, the shadow infrastructure minister, admitted at the start of her contribution that maths wasn't her strong point. Like her, I preferred English and history at school, but certainly Lyn Kensey and John Zoglmann were great teachers. John Egan was my favourite, but I digress. When you see the infrastructure rollout and the spending and funding that we are doing and compare it to what happened previously, it is like comparing chalk and cheese. Investment across our infrastructure pipeline has averaged $8 billion a year since 2013-14. Under Labor, it was $6 billion a year. I know that the member for Ballarat would realise and acknowledge that there is a $2 billion difference. More than 220 major Australian government funded projects are now under construction, with more than 124 projects starting construction in the last financial year. Since coming to government, 449 major projects have been completed. Many members have spoken about the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, a $1.5 billion program. More than $1.2 billion of that has been approved across 5,169 projects. This is such a boon, particularly for regional communities. Around $640 million has already been paid to councils and, as we heard from minister for local government, there are 537 of them. Under our $2 billion road safety package, announced in last year's budget, almost a billion dollars for approximately 700 projects has been approved under tranche 1.

We pay on milestones, and this is something that has been raised today. We don't spend money on works that have not been delivered. Labor might have because Labor paid for a lot of things that weren't ever delivered. I don't seek to bolster state budgets. What I do is seek to pay when projects have reached milestones or are completed. The states give us their estimated cash flows for how they think they can spend our commitments, and we make sure that the Commonwealth money is available. This means we can bring money forward if the states can deliver projects faster. I've said that, and certainly through COVID-19 I have made that promise. Here's an insight: I work well with state Labor infrastructure ministers and I know that the federal urban infrastructure minister does likewise. What we do is prudent financial management. Funding remains available and it's paid to state governments as soon as project delivery milestones are met. There's one other important distinction between Liberals and Nationals and Labor, and that is that, when we're in government, there's an 80-20 split as far as regional programs and projects are concerned. What we see when Labor is in government is that country areas miss out because there is a 50-50 split, so a lot of those projects are never funded.

The member for Blair asked me about Queensland's investment share. I can tell the member that 20.7 per cent of the Commonwealth's investment in infrastructure will go to Queensland over the next decade, which is commensurate with its share of population, 20.2 per cent. If you look at that, they're actually getting more per head of population than they otherwise might have, or probably would have, under a Labor federal government—God forbid.

Mr Neumann interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: You say over the forward estimates, where it's 21.1 per cent, so there you go. The member for Flynn belled the cat when he said that the onus is on the Queensland government to get on with it. I work well with Glenn Butcher on water infrastructure. In good faith, we want to build infrastructure together and we will. Certainly, Mark Bailey and I have a very good relationship. Not a week goes by when there's no communication between our offices and between ourselves to get things done. Queensland can be, will be, one of the powerhouses for our recovery from COVID. We've committed up to $170 million to upgrade the Cunningham Highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek, including the upgrade of key intersections at Yamanto and Amberley.

Mr Neumann interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I didn't hear from the member for Blair before I committed that money. It wasn't a Queensland priority, but I made it a Commonwealth priority.

The member for Perth asked me about Western Australian funding. When the WA state government has a $3 billion surplus in a time of financial crisis—in a global pandemic when other states are supporting health and economic outcomes—there is an onus on them to dig deep and spend a bit of money on infrastructure. My time is up. I am sorry about that because I had much more to say. (Time expired)