House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Questions without Notice

Morrison Government

2:09 pm

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

My question is to Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House how the Morrison-McCormack government is demonstrating strong leadership in our economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession through its continued investment in critical infrastructure?

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

Strong leadership and rural and regional areas go hand in hand through the COVID recovery, because rural Australia and country Australians are leading the way out of this terrible, terrible time. I thank the member for Nicholls. He's a very staunch advocate for regional development. He knows that, through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, the local government areas within Nicholls will benefit to the tune of $21 million. That is the case for all electorates right across the nation. That particular program is going to benefit local roads and community infrastructure, and it's going to get on with the job of putting workers back on site, getting tractors busy, getting excavators pushing dirt around and, most importantly, helping the small support businesses in and around those work sites.

The member knows also the benefits which are being realised by our transformational Inland Rail project. Inland Rail is going to go through Seymour in his electorate. This corridor of commerce—expanding 1,700 kilometres from Brisbane to Melbourne—is going to make sure that produce gets to port within 24 hours. The first section, Parkes to Narromine, was completed recently, and $110 million of value of goods and services went to 99 local and regional businesses. The member for Hasluck—the minister—the member for Barton and maybe even the member for Lingiari will be interested to know that, during this special NAIDOC Week, $14.1 million was spent on that section—the first section of 13—with Indigenous owned businesses, and 298 Indigenous workers were employed on this section. That's something that we are very proud of. Inland Rail is using Liberty steel—South Australian steel, Whyalla steel—and that's also certainly helping with the recovery from COVID-19.

Moree Mayor Katrina Humphries has applauded the contract that has been awarded for the next section of Inland Rail, from Narrabri to North Star. She says that, with most of the Inland Rail workforce to be accommodated in Moree, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many different businesses to cater for the influx of Inland Rail personnel as well as keeping tourists happy. Inland Rail is going to have such benefits for Queensland. In fact, most of the benefits of Inland Rail will be experienced—during the construction phase and certainly beyond—by Queenslanders. Garth Hamilton, a local engineer from Toowoomba—and, hopefully, the next member for Groom—says Inland Rail will deliver faster and cheaper freight for farmers whilst making Toowoomba a freight and logistics hub, bringing significant economic benefits to the region. So all are going to benefit from it—Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. I'm very pleased that I was able to sign those intergovernmental deliveries. That's delivery. That's outcomes. That's getting on with the job and that's making sure we get the projects completed. (Time expired)