Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading
We know how important this budget is for people all over Australia, but I can tell you it is particularly incredible for the people of Lingiari. This budget represents the largest federal government investment in the Northern Territory in a long, long time: $2.5 billion will flow into the Territory, building critical infrastructure, supporting major projects and providing better livelihoods for Territorians. This funding will have tangible impacts on the ground and will go a long way in addressing much-needed social and economic challenges.
One key area this funding will go towards is our roads. Anyone who knows the Territory knows how important our roads are. Roads are how we connect to our communities out bush. They're how we make sure our supply lines are strong and that food, petrol and other necessities arrive on time. Good roads mean we can build our regional economies and lead to employment opportunities and better access to jobs. Good roads—safe roads—can be the difference between life and death for people out bush.
In this federal budget, $550 million in new funding was committed for our roads. Just last week I had the privilege of travelling out to Yuendumu with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government to announce $350 million for the sealing of the Tanami and Central Arnhem highways. Already, in the community, there is a lot of talk about how the road can lead to greater economic development, with roadhouses, petrol stations and campgrounds needed to support the many travellers along that road. I will be working very hard to make sure our communities benefit from the funding committed and are able to capture the economic benefits of this federal funding.
Another $200 million will go towards the Northern Territory Strategic Roads Package, bringing the total to $332 million. That covers roads like the Mereenie Loop Road in Central Australia and the road to the Santa Teresa community, or Ltyentye Apurte, where, in the past, there were a lot of deaths of dialysis patients. People couldn't come in, particularly into Alice Springs, because that road had been cut off. The Papunya and Areyonga roads will all be getting much needed access roads. For years our communities called on the previous government to seal these roads, and to save lives and ensure good connectivity to our regions. Well, one of the things that I have campaigned very hard on is letting those communities know that the federal Labor government has heard their call, particularly in terms of good roads. We have listened. And I'll be working really hard to get that tar on the ground as soon as possible. There will be a lot of discussion with the Northern Territory minister who has responsibility for making sure that those contracts and the tar get on the ground as quickly as possible. The federal minister and I have met with the Northern Territory ministers to make sure that we can get that happening ASAP.
Central Australia is a unique part of this country. It has become a melting pot of multiculturalism that is an amazing place to live in and to travel to. However, after a decade of neglect from those opposite, the region has been left with immense social and economic issues. These issues have been targeted by the Labor government in this budget through a $120 million Central Australia Plan, which is being delivered in collaboration with the Alice Springs Town Council—and I have to acknowledge the mayor of the Alice Springs Town Council, Matt Paterson, who worked very hard with both the coalition government and also Labor in opposition to make sure that Alice Springs would benefit from either government—and also the Northern Territory government.
This plan and investment will provide a much-needed boost to the region through the creation of a CBD master plan and redevelopment of the CBD in Alice Springs; upgrades in infrastructure at the Gap youth centre, which will provide needed and necessary safe spaces for our youth to go to; and the development and construction of a national Aboriginal art gallery, which will become a national attraction. This is an exciting time for Central Australia, and I look forward to seeing the reinvigoration of a great town that will thrive under a Labor government that doesn't forget about regions.
There is also, in terms of infrastructure, $10.9 million which will go towards supporting infrastructure in a lot of our remote communities. We know that young people out in communities certainly need that infrastructure to keep them not only healthy and well but also staying in their communities. I also spoke yesterday about the needed and necessary funding for homelands. We have at the moment a crisis with overcrowding in our communities. The homelands funding will enable those communities to get people back on country and also relieve a lot of the overcrowding that has been occurring in those communities.
During the election, I did say and the mantra was that the Territory always does better under a Labor government. Many may scoff, but when you've lived in the Territory—I was born there and I've never left the Territory—you see $2.5 billion investment in infrastructure, and not just any infrastructure but road connectivity, information technology, mobile phones and mobile connectivity, is really important in terms of this budget. People often talk about regional Australia. This is a great budget in the Northern Territory, not just for regional communities but also because it will provide infrastructure and needed connectivity for remote Aboriginal communities that have suffered. I know that members opposite don't like to hear it, but they have suffered in the Northern Territory over the last 10 years under a Coalition government. So it was great to see the investment from the Labor government of $2.5 billion—the biggest investment ever of any government into infrastructure in the Northern Territory. I am proud to stand up and applaud the Labor government, because those communities that are benefiting from all that needed infrastructure certainly have been singing the praises of the government for delivering on that.