Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Would the Deputy Prime Minister advise the House how the government’s vision for transport is helping to keep the economy strong and provide jobs for working Australians? Are there any threats to these plans?
I thank the member for Blair for his question. The member for Blair in his local area is a local hero as far as transport infrastructure is concerned, getting into his area one of the largest investments in road infrastructure that was badly needed because of the lack of attention of the state Labor government in Queensland in looking after the people in the Ipswich area. But the member for Blair has done it. Not only that: under his watch while he has been the member for Blair, we have seen unemployment in that electorate fall from 9.4 per cent to 4.7 per cent. That is a great achievement by the member for Blair. He supports every government decision to invest in infrastructure across Australia and not just in his own electorate.
Yesterday, when I announced the approval of a billion dollar investment for a new parallel runway for the Brisbane airport, the member for Blair supported that decision wholeheartedly because he knows what it means for south-east Queensland—it means a boost to the economy in south-east Queensland of $17.2 billion by 2023. He supports economic development and growth because that delivers job opportunities to Australians. We thank him for his support. During the construction phase alone of the new parallel runway at Brisbane airport, 2,700 jobs will be created in Brisbane. That is a significant benefit. But the most significant benefit of this new runway is that it provides the flexibility for the Brisbane Airport Corporation to better manage air traffic in the area. It means that a lot more aircraft will be taking off and landing over Moreton Bay and not overflying the suburbs of Brisbane. That has been stated right through the EIS.
Yesterday I predicted that the Leader of the Opposition, off the back of this decision, would immediately announce another inquiry. Guess what: No. 97 is on its way—it was No. 96 yesterday—another inquiry into a possible curfew at Brisbane airport. That was last night and that was from the Leader of the Opposition. He said he would investigate the need for a night curfew at Brisbane airport. But come this morning, when the member for Lilley was being interviewed on Brisbane radio, he announced another new iteration of Labor’s policy. When he was interviewed and put under a bit of pressure on this issue on ABC radio to answer whether or not he supported a job-destroying curfew and the inquiry that the Leader of the Opposition had announced, the shadow Treasurer said, ‘Labor’s curfew policy would not apply if the majority of flights took off and landed over Moreton Bay.’ That is a bit of a revelation, given the EIS clearly states that, when the new parallel runway operation starts operating, 85 to 95 per cent of all night-time flights will operate over Moreton Bay. There you have your answer. Your answer is in the EIS, so there is no need for the inquiry. But what it indicates to us is that the Leader of the Opposition cannot make decisions. If he cannot make a decision, you cannot lead this country. If you cannot make a decision, you cannot manage a $1.1 trillion economy.
But I will leave the last comment about leadership and the ability to make a decision to the member for Griffith. He is quoted in an interview that he did with the Courier Mail with Peter Morley. This is a direct quote about him and his ability to lead this nation. The article reads, ‘With the increasing influence of the Queensland right on federal politics, the ministry may well be within his reach.’ But as for the top job, Mr Rudd said, ‘I don’t believe I have the goods to be Prime Minister.’ We agree.