House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Questions without Notice


2:09 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National 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-McCormack government's JobMaker plan is ensuring our trading relationships are supporting regional Australia and how the JobMaker plan is supporting regional Australia in general as part of the recovery from COVID-19?

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

This morning the member for Dawson announced a 10-tonne hammer and crane was going to descend upon the Mackay Northern Access Upgrade Project. That's something that's going to have as big an impact as the member for Dawson himself had when he landed ten years ago in this place. He's the voice of the north. He's the voice of the north and he talks about jobs. He talks about investment. He talks about regional development. He talks about trade. He talks about all of the things that are important for the far north. He talks about all of the things that are important for Mackay, for the Dawson electorate. The member for Dawson talked about how this machine will drive 36 poles ranging from 9½ metres to 12½ metres in length and weighing between six and eight tonnes each into the Goosepond Creek.

We are working to maintain supply and boost jobs not only through this project, through the Mackay Northern Access Upgrade, but, indeed, with everything that we do. That is $96.3 million of investment from the federal Liberal-National government. It is going to create more than 150 jobs, and he knows, as we all do, how it's going to improve the logistics, how it's going to improve the freight supply chain in his area. Commuters in Dawson are being supported through the COVID-19 crisis with every measure that we are putting out into the economy to drive jobs, to address the health situation, yes, but also to support our economy. And there's no greater fighter for the economy of Dawson than the member for Dawson himself.

He knows about how our 14 current free trade agreements are playing such a significant role in providing export opportunities for his local area. He understands that. His local area produces sugar cane—it is sugar city Mackay—beef, seafood, fruit and vegetables. The list could go on and on. And through COVID-19, these producers—the ones in Dawson, the ones in Far North Queensland, the ones right across the nation—are being supported by our $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism. Already 1,380 flights under that mechanism have carried more than 25,000 tonnes of Australian produce to international markets, including some great food from the Mackay region. This is but one way we have ensured the supply chain and we have backed our producers, backed those wonderful Far North Queensland producers, those wonderful farmers.

State border closures are costing jobs. I know Mackay's a long way from the border, but it's costing jobs in Mackay. It's costing jobs in Far North Queensland, and certainly we need to make sure that we get those border closures ended so we can get on with producing more jobs and more trade. (Time expired)