Thursday, 28 August 2014
Macquarie Electorate: Infrastructure
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the success of the coalition government in projecting and achieving significant accomplishments in infrastructure for Australia. The residents of Macquarie will benefit from this important focus. Geographically large and containing rural road networks of vast proportions, Macquarie stands to gain from the federal government's commitment to infrastructure. The provision of safer, more efficient roads to regional Australia is a priority of this government.
One such issue needing to be addressed was the Richmond Bridge in the electorate of Macquarie, traversing the Hawkesbury River between North Richmond and Richmond. This bridge has experienced significant increased traffic pressure over recent years. Labor failed to deliver on this committed project, but I have fought to see Richmond and North Richmond receive the approved infrastructure that the community deserves.
For several years, planning by the federal government and the New South Wales coalition government has been underway to cater for increased traffic around the Richmond Bridge. The city-centric previous Labor government short-changed regional Australia by cutting $500 million in regional funding. I am pleased to acknowledge the coalition government has committed $18 million of total funding for the Richmond Bridge and its approaches from 2013-14 through to 2018-19. A report detailing long-term recommendations has been published and the local community in the Hawkesbury have been consulted widely and included in the planning of this important project.
This government has a plan to improve road infrastructure in the electorate of Macquarie. Already planning for short-term improvements, detailed assessments of the environmental and heritage impacts of the project have been carried out since May this year. Two staged constructions on three identified intersections are projected to begin in early 2015 and longer term planning is underway to increase capacity in Richmond area through to 2021 and beyond.
This is a forward-thinking government. The time for planning future infrastructure begins now. This project comes on the back of record investment in infrastructure by the federal government. With the Roads to Recovery program, previous levels of funding are effectively being doubled in the next financial year, with an extra $350 million in 2015-16 to every council in Australia. $9.3 billion has been secured for local governments from 2014-15 to 2018-19 through the Financial Assistance Grants Scheme, to deliver services and build community infrastructure. Along with the coalition New South Wales state government and the Hon. Duncan Gay, Minister for Roads and Freight, state members and I have advocated strongly these past three years for the Richmond project. The coalition government is about delivering. This is a community effort. Roads and Maritime Services will continue consulting with key stakeholders in planning the upgrades and making them a reality for the electorate of Macquarie.
Regional infrastructure was not a priority for the previous Labor government. Projects such as the Roads to Recovery program were left in limbo, with funding expired on 30 June 2014. In the House of Representatives, Labor voted against legislation to guarantee the $2.1 billion required for the project.
This government, however, remains determined to deliver on infrastructure investment. I am delighted that the community can enjoy the benefit of improved roads and infrastructure in the electorate of Macquarie. The coalition government has planned for a strong and stable economy for Australia. It has promised funds for infrastructure development and it is delivering. Because we are enacting a plan to manage debt responsibly, funds can be allocated where they are needed—for sustainable growth and wise long-term economic management and development. I will continue to advocate for this project and, on behalf of the community I represent, fight for safer, more efficient infrastructure to benefit the people who call Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains home.