House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Regional Infrastructure

2:11 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, 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 comeback plan from the COVID-19 recession is delivering critical infrastructure projects across regional Australia?

2:12 pm

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

Well, everybody will be in furious agreement with what I have to say. I know that the member for Mallee knows all too well—

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

I just say to the Deputy Prime Minister: when I'm trying to get better behaviour in the chamber, provocation doesn't help!

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

Well, if they don't agree with me, Mr Speaker, they will agree with a local Wedderburn cocky, a bloke by the name of Des Lanyon, who said, 'Prior to connection of the South West Loddon Pipeline, I needed to cart water for 20 out of the past 50 years.' Can you just imagine having to cart water for 20 years of the past half-century? He also said, 'In those years, I spent between 40 and 50 hours a week carting water just to meet our livestock and household needs.' This farmer is so pleased that we are investing in and developing water infrastructure. He belongs to the member for Mallee's electorate. He lives near Wedderburn. Some people might know that the Hand of Faith gold nugget came from near Wedderburn. We know, and certainly everybody should know, that water is worth its weight in gold. That's why we're building dams. That's why we're getting on with the job of making sure that the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund has the resources it needs—$3½ billion—to be spent on developing water infrastructure for farmers like Des Lanyon and for farmers like, in the member for Bass's electorate, Cameron Moore, from Jetsonville, who said, of the Scottsdale dam: 'It means we have been able to expand the current vegetable production to onions, potatoes, carrots, swedes and beetroot.'

But back to Mallee, a great Victorian electorate: we've completed two of those water infrastructure projects, securing supply of water for agriculture. The South West Loddon Rural Water Supply Project is a $90 million investment ensuring supply for 219,000 hectares. The delivery of this project, with the construction of the pipeline, has connected more than 380 customers across communities such as Wedderburn, Inglewood and Bridgewater. The project has delivered jobs in the regions. The Prime Minister would agree that this is what it's all about as well. It's about jobs. It's about jobs for construction, jobs for the future. There were 40 jobs during the building of it and around 134 jobs created in farming, in agricultural output, for that fantastic area of rural Victoria. The project was completed in May of this year, and the benefits are already flowing to the customers.

In Mildura, the Sunraysia Modernisation Project 2 is delivering 90 jobs. The member for Mallee knows this well. The project is delivering water supply to about 2,000 hectares of land around Merbein and Red Cliffs. This expansion has allowed for an increase in ag production in citrus and premium grape yields, a significant export for the region. These projects are but two of the projects we're getting on with and delivering. We're investing in water infrastructure. We're investing in the future. We're investing in agriculture. We want it to get to $100 billion by 2030. I know that the minister for agriculture is right behind this, as we all are, as we should be.