Thursday, 18 October 2018
Matters of Public Importance
Rural and Regional Australia
Labor does have a plan. It's the same plan they had last time. It's a plan to tax more. It's a plan to spend less in the regions. It's a plan to make life harder for regional Australia. I know this plan. I know this plan because the people I represent remember this plan. They used this plan last time. Come on, member for Hunter, I'd hoped you'd come up with something original.
Let's reflect on the plan last time Labor were in power. There was massive uncertainty under water. Remember those public meetings? Thousands of people turned up. They pulled out water infrastructure. When Senator Penny Wong was water minister, she said that not only is there no future in this block, you have to pull up the water infrastructure from that block and shut it down for five years. Do you know what, Mr Deputy Speaker? Those blocks that were shut down by Penny Wong for having no future are now getting replanted in my patch. That was their plan. Wait, there was another plan they had: shut down live exports. That was by former Prime Minister Gillard, which offended our markets. The one thing about markets is you have to give guarantee of supply, and we shut those down. They locked up infrastructure. There was no delivery on water by the member for Watson. I remember walking around this place as president of the Victorian Farmers Federation, trying to get them to commit to the Sunraysia Modernisation Project. They wouldn't do it. You know what, it's built. It was committed to by us and built by us. We remember your plan, Labor, and your plan isn't so original, I've got to say. Your plan is the same old plan: tax more, spend less in the regions and make life harder for regional Australia.
I just want to touch on our plan. Our plan has been one of delivery. We have free trade agreements with China, Japan, Korea, Peru, Indonesia, and Trans-Pacific Partnership 11. We're opening up markets everywhere. If you opposite got in power, we know what you'd do: you'd shut those down. We're investing in rail and investing in airports. There's the $20,000 instant tax write-off, which actually helps small business and actually helps to stimulate the retailers. Six hundred mobile phone towers were turned on. That is our plan.
Labor still has the same plan in Victoria. I'm pleased to be given the opportunity now to compare what's going on in Victoria in the lead-up to the election. Did you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in a number of days the Victorian Labor government will go into caretaker mode. You would think that they would be having a bit of a dip if they wanted to deliver for regional Victoria. I happen to represent 36 per cent of the state—the best part of the state. The National Party, in that 36 per cent, in the lead-up to this election, have committed $10 million for sporting facilities in Mildura, renewal of passenger rail to Mildura and Horsham, a 32-bed extension of the Mildura hospital, a $44 million new hospital in Swan Hill, a $7 million drug rehab centre and an $80 million rail upgrade. You would think at least one of those would get a 'Me too!' from the Victorian Labor government if they wanted to get re-elected. Not one is—no sports stadium, no passenger rail for regional areas, no 32-bed extension for the Mildura hospital, no $44 million new hospital in Swan Hill, no $7 million drug rehab centre and no $80 million rail upgrade.
I want to tell you something else about a plan. I came to this place five years ago and I said, 'I want to see a radiation treatment bunker for Mildura.' A few days ago it was committed to. The federal government has backed this. What we need to see from the Victorian government is the ability to allow public patients to use that, to come on board. They go into caretaker mode in less than a week, but have they come on board? No. No plan for regional Australia.
I see they have gone all quiet on that side. That's because when you put it all down on paper and lay it all out, there are millions and millions of dollars in regional Australia that have been delivered by the National Party, but not even an attempt by the state Labor government to match it, and not even an attempt to match it by the Labor Party in this place. The shadow minister for agriculture wants to be the man, but he isn't muscling up to the task. He's had all that time in opposition, and all he's got to present to this parliament is the same Labor plan, which is a plan to tax more, a plan to spend less in regional Australia and a plan to make life very difficult for the people who live in regional Australia.