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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 48


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (14:19): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on how the government's plan to keep our economy strong provides benefits for regional areas, including in my electorate of Dawson? Is the Minister aware of any risks to this economic growth that would hurt rural and regional Australia?

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (14:19): I thank the member for Dawson for his question. He's very engaged today. Getting the books in better shape means that we can share the benefits in regional Australia and build the future that the regions deserve. It means that we can boost productivity. We can get people home sooner and safer, whether it's in and around Mackay or anywhere else in Australia. We are getting on with the job of doing just that. It means that young people in the regions can get a job.

Today's job numbers are very, very positive news. It means that small businesses can have a go, can invest, can back themselves. And we back them. Whether they're tourism, whether they're farming—no matter what it is, in Mackay and in the wider Dawson electorate we're there supporting them all the way. It means that older Australians can have the confidence that their hard-earned savings will not be raided to fund Labor's tax attack. It means that we can invest more than $1.4 billion in regional projects and billions more in infrastructure in the regions to make Australia even greater.

In the member's electorate that includes our $10 billion commitment to building the Bruce that the people of regional Queensland and regional Australia deserve. In the member's electorate there is the Bowen Road bridge upgrade: $3 million, yet another Queensland road project to get people home sooner and safer. It's investment in the Whitsundays Sportspark precinct redevelopment: $1.9 million and yet another investment in making regional communities stronger, building that regional capacity and building those communities. It's the new Sugar Bowl skate park in Mackay—a $1 million injection to make sure that our youth have somewhere where they can have good recreation. It also means 15 jobs in construction and two ongoing. It's our $176.1 million in the Rookwood Weir. We've been talking about it for years; now we're getting on with the job of actually building it. Well done to the members for Capricornia and Flynn. They have delivered. They're projects which give regional Australia a much-needed boost.

These regional programs and regional funding initiatives are the very first thing that Labor will cut. When Labor were last in government, it was regional programs which were raided. I know the member for Watson's electorate—hardly regional—benefited from a regional project. It should have been set aside, dedicated, quarantined to the regions. That's what we did. We made sure the money for regional programs was spent where it needed to go—in rural, remote and regional Australia. They're a party happy to get in bed with the Greens, happy to make sure that regional programs are going to go, happy that coalmining projects are going to go by the wayside just so they can get Greens votes in the inner cities. We want regional Australia to have a ring of confidence and a future. The Labor leader just wants to raid its funding.