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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3461

Wide Bay Electorate: Infrastructure

Mr LLEW O'BRIEN (Wide BayDeputy Nationals Whip) (14:50): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on recent announcements of nation-building, job-creating regional infrastructure, including in my electorate of Wide Bay? Is Deputy Prime Minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Leader of The Nationals) (14:50): I thank the member for Wide Bay for his question and I thank him for his advocacy for his electorate, for Queensland and in the national interest.

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Griffith is warned.

Mr McCORMACK: On 23 April, I stood with the member for Wide Bay and the assistant minister, the member for Hinkler, at a very emotional press conference where we announced funding for section D of the Bruce Highway. I was standing behind the member for Wide Bay as he was speaking to the press, and he became quite emotional. He was a policeman, and a very fine policeman, with the Queensland state police force for 16 years. On many occasions he'd had to go and do the 3 am death knock—not something any police officer wants to do—to tell families that their relatives or loved ones were not coming home. Sometimes, those family members had lost their lives on that particular section of road. That 26-kilometre stretch of road from Cooroy to Curra is now going to be duplicated as part of the Bruce Highway upgrade, an $800 million commitment for a four-lane ring-road around Gympie. There will be greater safety and reduced travel times, and people will get home sooner and more safely. That's what the infrastructure spend is all about. With the infrastructure spend for the Bruce Highway in last night's budget, the commitment is now up to $10 billion. This will boost productivity and create local jobs whilst, at the same time, increasing road safety.

I also commend the editor of the Gympie Times, Shelly Strahan, for her advocacy. She very well put it on the front page of her newspaper, under the bold headline 'We did it'. 'We did it,' she said, 'in conjunction with the member for Wide Bay.' This followed on from another very graphic front page entitled 'Stop the carnage'. The article began:

The final leg of the Bruce Hwy bypass must be built NOW.

I know how much this means not only to the member for Wide Bay but, more importantly, to the people he represents, and that's what politics is all about. It's not just about the government or this parliament; it's about the people we serve. The sooner some members remember that the better off we'll all be.

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

Mr McCORMACK: I can hear them yell out, and I don't know why, because this is about saving people's lives. That's what I'm talking about and I don't know why you're yelling.

The SPEAKER: The member for McEwen is warned.

Mr McCORMACK: And he should be warned, Mr Speaker. That's what this is about.

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, there was no yelling out from this side of the House.

Government members interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler can resume his seat. Members on my right will cease interjecting. The member for McEwen will leave under 94(a).

The member for McEwen then left the chamber.

Mr McCORMACK: I was talking about road safety, just like I was yesterday. That's what the road infrastructure spend in last night's budget and going forward over the next 10 years is all about. This government is putting in place a pipeline of investment to help people get home sooner and more safely. Section D of the Bruce Highway is part of that.

The SPEAKER: The minister has indicated he wishes to raise a point of order.

Mr Dutton: During the course of the Deputy Prime Minister's answer then, the member for Cowan made an unparliamentary remark in relation to the police service of the member for Wide Bay, and I would ask you to ask her to withdraw it. It was laughed at by the Leader of the Opposition, who turned and smirked to her. She should withdraw it.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. There's a clear process I need to follow in these circumstances. I didn't hear anything. Obviously, there are a lot of voices coming at me. I didn't hear anything. We operate a system here where I simply ask the member whether they made an unparliamentary remark. I ask the member for Cowan—

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister will not interject while I'm addressing the chamber or he won't be here to hear the outcome.

Dr Aly: Mr Speaker, I did not make any unparliamentary remarks.

The SPEAKER: I thank the member for Cowan. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.