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Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Page: 6713

COVID-19: Regional Australia

Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (14:51): My question is also to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the Morrison-McCormack government's plans for jobs is supporting regional Australia through the continued rollout of infrastructure as part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development and Leader of the Nationals) (14:52): I thank the member for Nicholls for his question and for his continued advocacy for rural and regional Victoria specifically and for his electorate. He knows full well how regional Victoria has done so well through COVID-19. Regional Victoria had restrictions placed on it because of outbreaks in Melbourne but, despite that, they have led the way with agriculture and they have led the way in making sure that they can be their best selves—and we want to make them even better, and I know the member for Nicholls does too. I know that he, like me and like the Prime Minister and everyone else on this side, shares that vision for the future—the COVID led recovery, which will be announced tonight at 7.30 right at this dispatch box when the Treasurer stands to his feet. He will announce a great regional budget. He will announce a fantastic infrastructure led recovery.

Yesterday we announced $7.5 billion in new investments to support 30,000 direct and indirect jobs across the nation: 82 new projects and 33 existing and shovel ready—ready to go. We want to get workers on the ground. Whether it's in the member's seat or any one of the 537 local government areas around Australia, we're going to deliver for them. What we're announcing tonight builds on the 100,000 direct and indirect jobs already being supported by projects under construction in the current infrastructure pipeline. Jobs, jobs and more jobs—that's what it's all about.

We're going to improve connectivity for the people the member for Nicholls represents so well. Our government is investing $320 million into stage 3 of the Shepparton rail line upgrade. We've invested heavily in Shepparton. Whether it's the art museum, the cannery or agriculture, everything that the member has fought for he has delivered. He's a fighter for his people, and we're helping him. Our $320 million investment will complement an $80 million investment by the Victorian government. The upgrade will enable VLocity trains to run on the line for the very first time, with speeds of up to 130 kilometres, with more return services between Shepparton and Melbourne—and that's important. At the same time, it will support around 990 direct and indirect jobs. Work is expected to start early next year. That's the beauty of an infrastructure led recovery. It's a lasting legacy to Australians, while supporting our economy in the short term, particularly in regional areas, and particularly those country areas so well represented by the likes of the member for Nicholls. It's our recovery plan.

As I said, it's all about jobs, jobs and jobs. It's all about getting that economic recovery through COVID. This area's been hard hit by the drought. It was hard hit by the fact that it had restrictions placed on it by Melbourne. But they've led the way through. They're going to be making sure that the COVID led recovery is all about jobs and infrastructure. (Time expired)