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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3062


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (17:07): I have pleasure in supporting the member for Capricornia's motion on northern Australia tourism development. Since coming to power in 2013, the coalition has been passionately committed to developing the economies of northern Australia. There are a number of industries with obvious advantages in the current economic climate. With the Australian dollar for the first time in many years being at a competitive level, export industries like agriculture, tourism and mining will come to the fore. Agriculture and tourism have been identified as the next super growth industries. Recent record cattle prices are evidence of this.

As tourism has increased in global competitiveness, investment is beginning to pour into the north. In my electorate of Flynn, we have entrepreneurs ready to take advantage of the weak dollar by developing high-quality resorts in breathtaking locations ready for the next influx of Chinese, Japanese or global tourists.

We already have a world-class destination in the southern Great Barrier Reef. P&O's tourist boats are now regular callers at the Gladstone docks. We have Heron Island, which is great for overseas tourists; Lady Musgrave Island—again, overseas tourists with a sprinkling of Australian tourists; and a proposed new resort at Hummock Hill, 30 kilometres south of Gladstone—that is a billion dollar investment by Australian investors.

I can see the next tourism boom being similar to that of the 1980s with Australia back at No. 1 as a personal place to visit. This will only be possible if our infrastructure is up to date.

That is why we are getting on with the job of improving our transport network. We are fixing the Bruce Highway, the most important transport route in Queensland. More than 5,000 motorists use the highway between Gladstone and Rockhampton each day. $170 million was spent on the Yeppen project, south of Rockhampton, and a further investment will be made in the near future.

We are spending $32 million on the Bruce Highway between Midgee and Bajool, making it safer, with new services, better turning lanes and wider centre lines. These projects are part of the long-term vision for the Bruce Highway—Brisbane to Cairns—that will see it a modern, safe highway capable of handling increased traffic brought on by the growth in agriculture and tourism alike.

We are helping tourists experience the interior as well, with the $750 million being spent on the Capricorn Highway between Rockhampton and Emerald. This will allow for safer travel between Rockhampton and Gracemere, with dual carriageways between Gracemere and Rockie, and Gracemere to Emerald, with six new overtaking lanes. From Emerald, tourists can travel around the central highlands, to the unique Sandstone Belt national park attractions: Blackdown tablelands, Carnarvon Gorge and Salvator Rosa. Or they can visit the gem fields, including the quaint townships of Anakie, Sapphire, Rubyvale and The Willows. These places produce some of the best gemstones—sapphires, in other words—in the world. At the gem fields, tourists can choose to fossick for gems themselves or visit a local mine, walk through underground sapphire mines, and enjoy the hospitality of the local people.

This better, safer transport network will not only handle an increase in local and overseas tourists; it will help promote and draw visitors to northern Australia. Northern Australia is a truly wonderful tourist destination.