Wednesday, 28 October 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Regional Australia
I thank the member for his question. He refers to the road back from COVID-19—a road which is paved with opportunity, a road which is paved with infrastructure investment, a road which is being helped by the budget that the Treasurer announced this month, a budget which was very, very good for regional Australia. I know that regional members on both sides of the House were very pleased as to what it will achieve and bring to their electorates—not least of which is the $2 billion road safety upgrades. Many of those upgrades will be in regional electorates. There is $1 billion for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. In the member's electorate are Banana Shire Council, Bundaberg Regional Council, Central Highlands Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, North Burnett Regional Council, Rockhampton Regional Council, South Burnett Regional Council and Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council—all of which are going to share in $29.6 million under the LRCI Program. And there is $200 million for another round of the highly popular Building Better Regions Fund. That has made such a difference for regional communities.
The member for Flynn represents Gladstone. Gladstone is about coal. Gladstone is about powering Australia's economy. Gladstone is one of those wonderful regional cities, the potential of which is unlimited. Yesterday there was an opportunity for coal for Collinsville, for Gladstone, that was accepted and adopted by this side of the house. One member opposite, the member for Hunter, had a chance to support coal, to support what we are doing. He missed the boat. The ship has sailed.
Ms Butler interjecting—
Speaking of ships, the Gladstone port is one of those deep ports which are providing such a difference for regional Australia. Opened in 1914, coal is 70 per cent of the exports through that port—50 million tonnes each and every year. I know that the member for Flynn supports that. The member for Hunter says he supports that, but we saw yesterday that he failed in his opportunity to do so. Our investment in road and rail, supported through the COVID recovery—
Ms Butler interjecting—
our efforts through the budget, are going to back regional Australia all the way. I was very proud this afternoon to launch the Regional Activators Alliance—talking up regional Australia. Plenty of those opposite are very pessimistic about the future. They talk down regional Australia. They talk down our nation in general. But we are there. We are supporting regional Australia through the budget. We are supporting infrastructure investment—our $110-billion pipeline of investment to support electorates such as Flynn, to support port such as Gladstone and the city in general, to support jobs. That's what we're about—supporting regional jobs, supporting regional communities and getting on with it.