House debates

Monday, 7 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Australia

2:08 pm

Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, 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 plan for regional Australia is supporting our economic comeback from the COVID-19 recession?

2:09 pm

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

I thank the member for Flynn for his question. He is passionate about regional Australia and particularly Central Queensland. His Central Queensland electorate of Flynn is 132,824 square kilometres in size. It is such a provider for our nation: resources, agriculture and many other diversified business interests—too many to name here. It punches well above its weight, and it's championed in this House, and elsewhere, by the member for Flynn, who is a very shrewd businessman himself. I appreciate the acumen that he brings to this place in creating jobs, in making sure that businesses have the confidence to back themselves. As a former hotel proprietor and a former businessman who had a petroleum company that delivered petrol around the electorate, he knows full well just how important logistics are and employing people is.

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

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

I don't know why they're yelling about the fact that the member for Flynn has been a great contributor to the country. He will continue to champion those small businesses.

There are 17,200 small businesses in the electorate of Flynn that are eligible for the instant asset write-off, and I know many of them will take up that program and buy the capital equipment they need for their businesses to not just survive the global pandemic but to thrive at the back end of it. I know they will be continuing to do that and back in what is perhaps even more important than capital equipment, and that is human capital. They'll back that by employing people, by backing themselves, by employing that young apprentice, by taking advantage of the apprentice subsidy scheme.

There are employers and businesspeople like Alan Stent-Smith, who is promoting the CQ Inland Port at Yamala, 25 kilometres east of Emerald. That is a $9½ million project. We support it. The member for Flynn supports it. He knows that road and rail extension is going to take the wonderful produce of Central Queensland to port. The member for Flynn also knows, all too well, about the importance of upgrading the Capricorn and Dawson highways and the Gladstone Port access road extension. All of these projects are backed under our $110 billion record amount of infrastructure that we are investing right across the nation. Certainly, Central Queensland, which does so well for and on behalf of that maroon state and for and on behalf of our great nation, punches well above its weight, as I said. It's creating jobs, it's creating energy and it's creating opportunities. It's making investment opportunities for proprietors and for people who are going to back it well worth it. I commend the member for Flynn for his advocacy. (Time expired)