House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Infrastructure

2:19 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 investment in regional infrastructure is supporting our comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic?

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

I acknowledge Kay Catanzariti in the public gallery and acknowledge what she's doing for workplace safety.

Ms Catherine King interjecting

No need for that, member for Ballarat. I thank the member for Dawson for his question. Yesterday we heard encouraging reports from the Treasurer about our economic comeback from the COVID-19 global pandemic. As a government we are supporting businesses to create and to maintain jobs. In the member's electorate of Dawson, 4,200 businesses have accessed JobKeeper and more than 17,000 are eligible for the instant asset write-off measure which has made such a difference to so many small businesses across our nation.

Australia's consumer confidence is clear and evident in our GDP increase of 3.3 per cent over the last quarter. By investing in infrastructure—$110 billion, a record amount—over the next decade, we're getting on with the job of making sure that our regional communities in particular have connectivity, we're busting through congestion in our capital cities and we're making our nation what it needs to be.

Since the establishment of the National Water Grid Authority we have completed five water infrastructure projects, and we're getting on with building a whole lot more. One of the projects we are now planning for is the Urannah dam in the member's electorate. This project will be capable of delivering water to an irrigation precinct up to 25,000 hectares. The member for Dawson knows how important that is, and so do we.

Ms Butler interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Griffith.

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

She ought to go and talk to our state member, Mr Speaker. With the start of the environmental impact statement process, we are one step closer to the project commencing. That is what we're doing. We're increasing agriculture from $61 billion to $100 billion. The minister for agriculture knows how important this is going to be by 2030.

In a recent trip to the member for Dawson's electorate, we visited the Mackay Northern Access Upgrade Project, a project which has created more than 150 jobs in the local economy. This $120.3 million program of works includes the building of additional turning lanes, road alignments, intersection upgrades and targeted duplications.

The CEO of Tourism Whitsundays, Natassia Wheeler, in her destination sentiment report, has indicated that island resorts saw an average of 60 per cent increase in inquiries and a 40 per cent increase in bookings following the announcement of the borders reopening. That's what we need. We need tourists to flood and flock to our regional areas. The member for Dawson knows it and we know it. We'll get planes back in the air, we'll get jobs back on the ground. That's what it's all about. They are unable to fill all their orders because of a workforce challenge, so I say to people listening to this or watching this: there are jobs in the regions—good, well-paying jobs. Have a look. Come to the regions. You won't regret it! It's a great place to live, work and invest.