House debates

Monday, 9 November 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Transport

2:34 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the McCormack-Morrison government's plan for a safe and dependable transport network has underpinned Australia's unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Honourable Member:

An honourable member interjecting

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

It's alright, Scott; I've got your back! I would like to thank the member for Nicholls for his question. He understands how important transport is, coming from a regional electorate. All regional members know how important our truckies are and we want to thank our truck drivers for doing the job that they've done.

When the pandemic first hit, it was important to get a national freight code so that our truckies could go across borders unfettered, so that they could keep those supermarket shelves stocked and so that they could deliver the important personal protection equipment—facemasks and respiratory devices—that our hospitals needed and that our communities absolutely so desperately required. So we should thank our truckies at every step of the way for doing the job that they have done for and on behalf of our nation.

And there has been some good news in the last 48 hours. Indeed, Victoria has had no cases for 10 days and no deaths, and that is very, very good news. Tasmania is now open to all jurisdictions except Victoria and has announced that it will join the repatriation efforts, as well as the trans-Tasman arrangements, and that is good news. New South Wales, of course, will be open to all states and territories when it opens its borders to Victorians on 23 November—and that is good news too.

So I say to people out there: be positive but test negative. If you have flu-like symptoms then go and get tested. It's so important that you do so. We want Australians to be their best selves and we want Australians to stay well. That's why we've put in place measures to help our economy and measures to put health outcomes first and foremost. On an international scale we've done very well in that regard.

Aviation is making great progress on the comeback. It has been so hard. Planes in the air mean jobs on the ground, and aviation was hit first and hit hardest. We have protected, backed and supported our aviation sector. Late last week—on Thursday, in fact—I went to Kingsford Smith airport and had a look at the red- and green-lane provisions that Geoff Culbert, the CEO there, is putting in place to help our repatriation efforts and to help our domestic flights. More than 374,000 Australians have returned since 13 March, of whom 29,000 have come home on our Commonwealth facilitated flights. Through regional airline network support and domestic aviation network support we were able to establish an essential domestic network. That is good and that is important, and we'll continue to support our aviation sector. We'll continue to support our transport sector. I've done that at the behest of and with the cooperation of the state and territory transport ministers. That's what we're doing. That's what a good government does: it gets behind and backs our economy, it backs our nation and it supports those workers who need every bit of help. (Time expired)