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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8314


Senator HUME (VictoriaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:32): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Senator McKenzie. Yesterday, I asked the minister to update the Senate about small business policies, particularly investment in Victoria and how that supported economic growth for the nation. Today I would like to ask the minister to update the Senate on how the Liberal-National government's infrastructure investment in Victoria supports economic growth for the nation.

Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:33): Thank you, Senator Hume, for your question. As you know, Melbourne, in the great state of Victoria, is growing by more than 140,000 people each and every year. This congestion is being felt by families and businesses in our home state. The Liberal-National government has a plan to ease the impact of that population growth with our $75 billion congestion-busting infrastructure package for major road, rail, regional development and other public transport infrastructure.

For more than 50 years, Victorians have been calling for a rail link to Melbourne Airport from Melbourne city. The federal government has put $5 billion on the table to finally connect Tullamarine airport to the city by rail. Victorians will also benefit from the $235 million upgrade to the North East Rail Line between Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga, which will improve the journey for regional passengers and communities along the route, including right throughout the electorate of Indi. We're going further, investing $1.6 billion for the Regional Rail Revival package to deliver improvements across each and every regional passenger line in Victoria. More than 1,000 jobs will be created to deliver much-needed upgrades.

Senator Kim Carr interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Carr, you've been so restrained until now.

Senator McKENZIE: Victoria will also benefit from additional funding for crucially important Roads to Recovery blackspot and bridges renewal programs. Victoria's share of federal infrastructure investment includes $3 billion for the East West Link, a key part of our plan to ease congestion in Melbourne. But what did the state Labor Party do to address congestion? They didn't actually build the road. They spent the $1.3 billion, not to build the road. We have record investment to build infrastructure to ease congestion in Victoria to help get people home to their families faster, create thousands of jobs and address the long-term growth of our nation in the fastest growing city in the country.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hume, a supplementary question.

Senator HUME (VictoriaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:35): How will the investment that the minister referred to improve productivity across supply chains and support regional growth and job creation in Victoria?

Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:35): Well, we do that by connecting our fabulous fresh produce to global and domestic markets. The Inland Rail project is a transformational job-creating project creating a corridor of commerce from Melbourne to Brisbane. We've already committed to supporting the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project to connect Mildura to Melbourne. If elected in a couple of weeks, the Victorian state coalition will add an additional $80 million. This is essential to enable the turnaround of fresh local Mildura primary produce, such as table grapes and oranges, to get to the port on time and out to those markets. Daniel Andrews and Labor have failed to commit to this additional $80 million. They're more worried about votes in inner city seats and fighting off an insurgent Di Natale Greens than they are about delivering the essential infrastructure for regional Victoria to grow. Only a Liberal-National government has the vision to grow our regional economies, drive local job growth and create more opportunities for families to keep living and working in regional Victoria.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hume, a final supplementary question.

Senator HUME (VictoriaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:36): Is the minister aware of any risks to the government's job-creating plan?

Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:36): Yes, I am. The biggest risk to improving Victorian infrastructure is the election of a Labor government, whether it is Bill Shorten or Daniel Andrews. Daniel Andrews and state Labor have been in parliament for 15 of the last 19 years, and the one thing that's gotten bigger and better is congestion in Melbourne. They've actually created it, because Labor doesn't understand that you need to invest in critical infrastructure to deal with population growth. But they've also forgotten regional Victoria. Daniel Andrews thinks that country Victoria ends in Geelong and Ballarat. You've failed to address the rising population in Victoria and now the infrastructure can't cope. As Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson has said, infrastructure money is at risk of being spent on vanity projects rather than on projects that tackle congestion and growing our regions—sounds just like Jacinta Allan. Only the Liberal-National government will support regional businesses and community through our record investment.