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Nats notch up best result in 30 years



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13 September 2013

Nats notch up best result in 30 years

THE Nationals gathered in Canberra today and are celebrating a continuation of the resurgence in their vote across regional Australia, gaining an extra 3 seats in the House of Representatives for the Party’s equal best election result since 1984.

The Nationals’ Wombat Trail saw leader Warren Truss traverse 42,000 kms, crisscrossing regional areas to take in more than 60 far-flung communities during the election campaign.

“A lot of hard work, but more importantly, the faith of regional people in The Nationals was rewarded last week,” Mr Truss said.

“We’ve held all bar one of our seats and picked up another 4 for a total of 21 MPs and Senators in the new parliament. In the House of Representatives we gained Barnaby Joyce (New England), Dr David Gillespie (Lyne), Kevin Hogan (Page) and Michelle Landry (Capricornia). Matt Canavan has held the third Senate position in Queensland and will replace Senator Ron Boswell who retires from July next year.

“We also welcomed Keith Pitt (Hinkler) and Andrew Broad (Mallee) who replaced the retiring Paul Neville and John Forrest. We have fallen just short in others, but Michael Johnsen (Hunter), Matthew Fraser (Richmond), Tina Macfarlane (Lingiari), Noeline Ikin (Kennedy), Chub Witham (O’Connor) and Shane Vanstyn (Durack) have come very close.

“I thank my colleagues for their continued support of my leadership and welcome Barnaby Joyce to the deputy leadership. I congratulate Senator Nigel Scullion on his return as Nationals Senator leader and Fiona Nash as his deputy.

“This is a very strong Nationals leadership team. There is an honour and responsibility that weighs heavy on us all. Regional families, businesses and entire communities are demanding a fair share of what our country has to offer and the unlimited opportunities.

“Those opportunities must not be allowed to pass the regions by.

“This election result is clearly pleasing, but we know the eyes of regional Australia are upon us and now we have to deliver.”

In the lead up to, and during, this campaign, The Nationals in Coalition launched a series of regional-specific policies to begin the investment Mr Truss says the regions are due.

“We’ve committed $16 billion to regional highways, including the most comprehensive upgrade program ever undertaken on the notorious Bruce Highway and the completion of the Pacific Highway before this decade is out,” Mr Truss said.

“That’s in addition to $2.2 billion for the Roads to Recovery program to fix local roads and streets, and a further $300 million to fix dilapidated local bridges. We have committed $300 million to get the Inland Rail project running and $33 million for the

iconic Outback Way to seal a tourist and freight road from Cairns to Perth via Alice Springs.

“We will deliver an initial $1 billion of investment under our National Stronger Regions Fund to fund community infrastructure and facilities in areas doing it tough. That’s not phantom funding based on a dud mining tax - it’s fully-costed and accounted for money in the Federal Budget.

“This dedicated Fund will deliver even bigger dividends for the regions as the national economy improves.

“We’ve announced $100 million for Mobile Phone Black Spots. We will finish what we started when last in government to fill some of the reception gaps. Our broadband policy is skewed to the regions - delivering high speeds sooner and cheaper to the regions.

“We’ve announced $147 million for agriculture, including injecting an extra $100 million for vital research and development to boost farm productivity and profitability. These are the keys to unlocking greater and more efficient farm production. There’s $30 million towards opening overseas markets, producing better quarantine at home, $2.2 million to balance the ledger for native title respondents and $2 million for education about modern agriculture.

“We are also pumping $106 million into regional health initiatives to cover training, hospitals, allied health workers, cheaper medicines and bowel cancer screening and support for country general practice.

“These are landmark regional policies we have driven to bring better resources back into the regions.

“Of course, with our Coalition partners, we will axe the carbon and mining taxes and undo the red and green tape that is choking small business and investment in the regions. The will be a huge fillip.

“Today the real work begins. And reinvesting in regional Australia to drive a national economic recovery is front and centre in our approach.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6277 4482 or 0467 650 020 or brett.heffernan@aph.gov.au