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Thursday, 19 September 2019
Page: 3691


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (15:37): No-one is more inconsistent than the National Party when it comes to regional and rural Australia, particularly in my home state of Queensland. They promised, for example, $100 billion of infrastructure spend. They've underspent $5 billion already, and only 30 per cent of it is budgeted for. The Warrego Highway and the Cunningham Highway, in regional and rural areas, go into the member for Maranoa's electorate. He's going away from the chamber, because he doesn't want to hear it. He's not fighting for the funding for those areas. They've underspent the money for those areas.

And there's a digital divide in this country. It's not just on social and economic areas; it's on geographic areas. How can you spend over $50 billion and stuff up the telecommunications in this country? How can you? The NBN is four years late, and no-one suffers more from failures in telecommunications than people in regional and rural areas. We saw that in the recent floods and fires and cyclones in Queensland, because the Black Spot Program funding has been botched by these guys as well. We have areas that actually deserve and need the black spot funding—areas where it's been announced but not delivered. Again and again, they promise one thing in this place and they deliver nothing in the regions.

What about the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, $5 billion? Guess what? That was rolled out, supposedly years ago, and they've spent less than $40 million. On that basis it would take 500 years to deliver the funding in that fund for northern Australia, in regional and rural Queensland. And there's not one project in regional and rural Queensland. So don't come in here and give us lectures about how much you support regional and rural Australia, because you don't. The National Party and the LNP have always failed in Queensland and in regional and rural Australia.

Recently I was up at the Somerset Dam looking at the infrastructure the Queensland government is building to improve it. The Somerset Dam and the Wivenhoe Dam in my electorate service the water needs of about 65 per cent of South East Queensland. Sadly, the farmers are doing it tough and the regional towns in my electorate—places like Toogoolawah, Esk, Kilcoy, Lowood and Fernvale; country areas in rural Ipswich like Rosewood and Walloon, and other areas—are doing it tough. They don't need unction and sanctimony from the member who just spoke. They need action in this area. That's what they need. They've got a third-term government that's failed regional and rural Australia. The government raise expectations in election campaigns. They raise expectations in speeches here. But when's the money going to be rolled out? It's not being rolled out. They are underspending. No-one has worse health outcomes than the people who live in rural and regional areas. They die of cancer earlier—

An opposition member: Heart disease.

Mr NEUMANN: Heart disease, diabetes, asthma—they suffer from a whole range of maladies and illnesses, and in larger numbers and at higher rates than people in urban areas. The government are not just failing in relation to telecommunications and drought infrastructure; support in the form of a digital strategy; funding for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility; spending on water processing and water infrastructure; and spending on rail and roads—they're not just failing in those areas—the government are also failing in health funding. They're failing because they haven't delivered. They have botched it up. They've got this primary health network. The greatest example of the botching of the primary health care of rural and regional people is the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN, which is one of the worst PHNs in the country. It covers the Darling Downs area and the rural parts of South-East Queensland, including the Lockyer Valley, the Brisbane valley and the Scenic Rim areas. But guess what? The money they're delivering for that is not being rolled out to meet the needs of the people in these areas. They're not actually following the needs analysis that they conducted. So their failure is not just in the areas I talked about before; it's also in areas like health, which is so important. The government have also failed in aged care, because people in rural areas haven't got access to the home care they need. We have 130,000 people who have been assessed for these packages, who are waiting for packages, but they're not rolling them out in rural and regional areas.

It is across the whole architecture of government that this government are failing rural and regional Australia. In my home state of Queensland, the LNP members should hang their heads in shame, because their failure in those areas is even worse.