Thursday, 12 November 2020
Matters of Public Importance
I was very tempted, when I saw the subject of this matter of public importance, to pull out my appropriations speech that I gave only two weeks ago, where I spent 15 minutes talking about the achievements of the government in Grey—but of course I've only got a five-minute speaking spot this time, so I would have had to abridge it far too much. So I'll have to start all over again.
It's a bit like a 'gimme', a free kick, to be talking about the delivery of government support back into an electorate like Grey. It's often said in regional areas that if you've got a safe seat you don't get any attention. Well, I've held this seat now for five elections, and I've never seen the largesse from the federal government coming back at the kinds of levels that we're seeing at the moment. There is over $700 million committed to highway upgrades at the moment, and they are underway. I'm very pleased. What we're talking about—and this is what the subject is—is the government living up to its commitments.
Before the last election, in the weeks leading up to the election, I announced that we would be providing $64 million to begin the duplication of the Augusta Highway, north of Port Wakefield. Sure enough, it was delivered in this year's budget. It's there ready for the DIT in South Australia. They are working on the planning now, and then they will get the works underway. If we're talking about things that the government has committed to and then delivered, I'm very pleased at the moment to be driving past and driving through Port Wakefield. Port Wakefield sits at the top of Gulf St Vincent. It is the place where the national highway goes straight on to Port Augusta and the alternative route peels off onto Yorke Peninsula. It is the access road to Yorke Peninsula, which is a popular spot for a lot of reasons. It's great farming country and it's a great tourist spot. There are a great many beaches around Yorke Peninsula. It's got enormous history. In fact, there is a mining history in Moonta, where we've just delivered $5 million for heritage purposes, I might say. But, to come back to Port Wakefield, the turn-off is called 'crash corner', for good reason. It's been a bugbear of parents, in particular, and families as they send their loved ones off on that road during busy holiday periods when the traffic can be jammed up for kilometres. In August 2018, we committed to a complete rebuild—an overpass. It's happening now. So, if we're talking about things not being delivered, it was actually promised then and it's happening now. The bulldozers are in, the graders are in and it's all underway.
Further north at Port Augusta is the Joy Baluch AM Bridge. The Great Western Bridge, which was the walkway for Port Augusta, closed down about four years ago, and I started campaigning to get a duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge there. It was promised in the lead-up to the last election, and it's in this year's budget. Work is underway on that bridge at the moment. That is exactly what government is about; we say what we're going to do and then we deliver it. Over 20 mobile phone towers have been delivered in Grey. We said we would put in a black spot program. For the benefit of the member for Chifley—and welcome back to the front bench, member for Chifley—let me say that, from his very rural spot of within 50 kilometres of the centre of Sydney, he may not appreciate just how necessary mobile phone towers are in rural and regional Australia. But let me tell you, Member for Chifley—because you haven't been around as long as I have—your government were in power for six years. They didn't break any promises on mobile phones; they actually just didn't deliver anything. In fact, they did break one promise. Two billion dollars had been committed to a future fund for telecommunications in the bush by the Howard government. Guess what? Former Prime Minister Rudd came along and hoovered that up and he said, 'I'm going to use that and I'm going to put another $2 billion with it'—so that was $4 billion—'and I'm going to build an NBN network.' With $4 billion! We know how well that went! So, if you're talking about governments that actually say they're going to do something and then get out, roll up their sleeves and get the job done, you're talking about this government—the Morrison government. I'm very pleased.
I can talk for another 10 or 15 minutes on what's happening in Grey— (Time expired)