House debates

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Questions without Notice

Regional Australia

2:17 pm

Photo of Luke HartsuykerLuke Hartsuyker (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Minister, how is the government supporting regional communities through tax relief and investment in infrastructure? Are there any risks to this approach?

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Cowper for his good question. A strong economy means we can have more jobs. A strong economy, built upon by the strong economic policies of the Liberals and Nationals in government, means regional communities such as Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie can prosper now and into the future. That's what we are delivering—strong prosperity and strong growth, certainly in regional economies. What it all boils down to is jobs—jobs for today, jobs for tomorrow. When you have a strong economy, businesses have the confidence to back themselves. Small businesses in particular back themselves—such as Eagle Copters in Coffs Harbour. They are a wonderful decentralisation story. They moved to Coffs. They've expanded their operations. They've employed more people. They're the sort of business that puts on apprentices and puts on older Australian for perhaps a career-changing move. That's what we want to back. We also want to back infrastructure—because infrastructure backs employment, backs jobs—such as Bardens Bridge. For those opposite—I can hear them yell out—Bardens Bridge has replaced a timber bridge.

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

You might laugh, member for Watson, but it's connecting little Crossmaglen Public School, it's giving them the connectivity they need. The Minister for Education might like to know that the school has a student population of just 11. They need the connectivity just like any other community. I was there with those 11 students and their wonderful principal the other day on that new concrete structure and they were delighted. They were delighted by the member for Cowper's advocacy, delighted that he delivered that vital infrastructure piece. That's what we're doing. It's part of an overall $75 billion pipeline of investment. It's connecting regional communities. It's making sure that there's less congestion in capital cities. It's making sure that little communities like that get the bridges that they deserve, that they need and that they know are going to make sure that their connectivity is there for today and for the future.

What I see opposite are Setka's sentinels, yelling out and carrying on as usual. Setka's sentinels, that's what they are. We saw a little bit of a glimpse of it in Melbourne yesterday. That's what we saw. What will happen if the member for Maribyrnong ever becomes Prime Minister? Let's hope that day does not occur. What we saw yesterday was just a little glimpse into the future if ever that should happen.

What we want to do is back people like Stan Smith from South West Rocks, an 83-year-old retiree who doesn't want his savings stripped away. He is a self-funded retiree who is going to lose a lot if ever Labor becomes the government. We don't want that to happen. We want to back people like Stan Smith. We want to back people who are working hard and creating job opportunities for other Australians. (Time expired)