House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020


Nicholls Electorate: Transport Infrastructure

4:35 pm

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

I am proud to be a member of the Liberal-National government that delivers on nation-building, job-creating infrastructure, particularly in regional and rural Australia. The Nationals in government are delivering a record $110 billion transport infrastructure program and a $3.5 billion rolling water infrastructure fund to support local jobs and businesses at a time when it is most in need. This budget supports more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the projects, to get Australia back to work and back in business following the pandemic.

The 2021 budget commitment to infrastructure builds on the government's existing delivery on infrastructure. In my electorate of Nicholls, one of the most significant and largest transport infrastructure projects that northern Victoria has ever had is the $323 million Echuca-Moama bridge. This project has been discussed for decades—for some 50 years they have been talking about this project—but it has taken the Liberal-National government to get it delivered. Right now, stages 1 and 2 have been completed and stage 3 is well underway. In September, an important milestone was reached, with the completion of all of the piling works, with some 550 foundation piles driven for the Murray and Campaspe bridges. Installation of bridge beams is well underway.

The Shepparton bypass is another project that has been kicked down the road for many years. In last year's budget, the federal government put $208 million on the table for stage 1 of the bypass. But this project has remained dormant because the state government refuses to complete the business case. They have taken over two years to do a business case on the bypass. The Victorian government needs to release this before the end of the year so it can at least form part of next year's budget. We were pleased to hear in Senate estimates the department's first assistant secretary state that the policy project report from the Victorian government has been received and that it is anticipated that the bypass construction will start in 2022. So let's hope that things get underway.

This year's federal budget also allocated $320 million to stage 3 of the Shepparton rail upgrade. Whilst Shepparton is Victoria's fourth-largest regional city it has fared very poorly when it comes to the Victorian government and its investment in rail. Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat have 50 services, 27 services and 24 services respectively, whereas Shepparton has 4½ services—an extra 27 kilometres away from the CBD than is Bendigo. However, this infrastructure is likely to see up to nine Velocity services be delivered to Shepparton, which is a fantastic outcome for the people of Nicholls.

I also wish to bring the attention of the House to the need for a commitment from all governments to build the Yarrawonga-Mulwala bridge. The need for this bridge has been spoken about for many, many years and there is a genuine need to shut down the two bridges that service Yarrawonga and Mulwala at the moment. This planning study was commissioned in 2009—11 years ago. There have been options that have been identified, and both communities—Yarrawonga and Mulwala—have been asked by their councils what their preferred option is and what their preferred route is. They have both come back with an acknowledgement that they need to build the bridge as far to the east as possible—what is called the 'green route'. Victoria is effectively now on side with that route, but New South Wales needs to make the decision to build the bridge where the people of both Yarrawonga and Mulwala need to have it built. It is an incredible project, and as soon as we can get the route sorted out we will be in a position for New South Wales and Victoria to put up their money and, if money is needed from the federal government, then we will be in a position to contribute.

Once again, I would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his overall understanding of how important this nation-building infrastructure is for regional seats, regional areas and regional cities. With the investment in rail, bridges, roads and bypasses, we've certainly been well looked after by the Nationals and Michael McCormack.