House debates

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Questions without Notice

Inland Rail

2:27 pm

Photo of John McVeighJohn McVeigh (Groom, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development: Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the Morrison government is transforming regional Australia through the building of the Inland Rail?

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

I thank the member for Groom for his question. He understands how important this nation-building infrastructure is and how it's going to transform not just his area, but the 1,700 kilometres from Melbourne to Brisbane. That is 1,700 kilometres of commerce—a corridor of commerce; a corridor of hope and optimism. He and I were there at the Allwrights' Good Morning Cereals factory. They were extolling the virtues of the rail to be able to get their product to port quicker, to markets quicker, to other factories quicker, so it can be processed and the goodness from the Darling Downs and the Toowoomba region can be there for all the nation to enjoy. It's the Allwrights' Good Morning Cereals; it's KB Concrete at Narromine, a town of 3½ thousand people, where brothers Ken and Ben Maclean are going to benefit from this.

It is Close the Gap Day. In the Narromine to Parkes section there are 1,500 workers busy working on that line. That includes 283 Indigenous workers. Perhaps even more importantly, it includes nine Indigenous businesses, making sure that they also gain the benefits of the Inland Rail.

Up in the gallery is the mayor of Temora, Councillor Rick Firman. His neighbouring shire of Junee is also going to benefit. Every neighbouring shire right up and down the line is benefiting and is going to benefit from the Inland Rail. It's going to get product to port within 24 hours. This is nation building.

They first started talking about it in 1890. The first plans were drawn up in the early 1900s. The Liberal-Nationals government is getting on and doing it. We turned the first sod on 13 December 2018 at Parkes. Parkes is going to be the centre of the Inland Rail universe. It is already benefiting from concrete, from ballast and from workers tying into this great project. We know just how important it is. Let me tell you, each and every one of the state governments who have signed the intergovernmental agreement knows too the benefits of the Inland Rail. It is nation-building infrastructure. It's all part of the $100 billion infrastructure rollout that we're doing over the next decade.

Every electorate, every community, is benefiting from the wisdom of this government, from the delivery of this government, from the sure and stable economic conditions that it is giving this nation. You can only do this when you're able to balance the books. You can only do this when you get your budget back into surplus. Those opposite don't know the definition of surplus.