Wednesday, 9 November 2016
I rise today in this place to speak about the Turnbull government's election commitment to the City of Townsville, and the fact that we would be the recipient of the first City Deal. However, on 21 October 2016, Prime Minister Turnbull signed an MOU with the New South Wales government regarding a City Deal for Sydney. He has sent a very clear message to the people of Townsville: he does not care about regional Queensland. It is very clear that the Turnbull government does not have a clear plan or direction for Townsville.
During the election, Labor led the charge for the Townsville stadium, seven months ahead of the Turnbull government. Along with the Queensland government, Townsville Enterprise, the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, the Townsville city council, the Townsville Bulletin and community members, we dragged the Turnbull government kicking and screaming to match Labor's commitment to deliver the Townsville stadium—and we are still waiting. It seems that the Turnbull government was not committed to the stadium then, and their actions to date prove this government still is not committed. When questioned during Senate estimates about the Townsville stadium, the government dodged questions. When asked by Senator McAllister about the elements that would be included in the city's deal and the responsibilities and progression to date, the government dodged the question by saying constructive conversations were happening. Well, to quote one of my favourite singers, Elvis Presley, Townsville needs:
A little less conversation, a little more action …
Townsville is in need of urgent infrastructure projects, as unemployment is over 13 per cent and youth unemployment is almost 20 per cent. We need action now. I hold, and I will continue to hold, the Turnbull government to account for their election commitments to Townsville. The Townsville stadium is a vital infrastructure project for our city, as it will foster business confidence and create over 1,000 much-needed jobs and opportunities for small business and local contractors. The state government has instigated an expression-of-interest process to encourage local businesses to lodge their interest and experience in relation to the construction of the stadium. I will also be urging the Turnbull government to ensure that the procurement process does create opportunities for local developers and businesses to get a fair go and to create local jobs.
It is becoming abundantly clear that Prime Minister Turnbull cares more about the south than he does about the north. This is a government lagging in every sense of the word. The Turnbull government promised the Townsville stadium aligned with the nation's first cities deal, and then gave it to his city mates in Sydney. He promised to have the cooperative research centre up and running by mid-2016; nothing has been achieved. He promised the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility more than a year ago; still not one project has been delivered. The Prime Minister needs to understand that he governs for the whole of the country and not just for those in southern cities. He needs to understand that regional, rural and remote Queensland is hurting and we need a hand up to kickstart our economies. I am more than happy to be the thorn in this government's side when it comes to fighting for Townsville.