House debates

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:21 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 please inform the House on how the Morrison-McCormack government's continued commitment to supporting businesses in regional Australia and creating regional jobs is ensuring a stronger Australia for 2021?

An opposition member interjecting

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

It is when you're in this place! I do thank the member for Dawson for his question and note his hard work during December and January, when he didn't talk at his constituents but listened to them—listened to and heard their concerns and their issues. And, of course, as all good members do, he comes here and acts upon those issues and those matters that they raise with him.

I want also to particularly thank all Australians, especially regional Australians, for what they've done, as the Prime Minister has just said, through the COVID crisis. Australians have been magnificent. They've done what they've been asked to do by the health experts: social-distancing, quarantining, self-isolation, and wearing masks. It's been difficult, particularly for regional Australians. In many areas of country, rural, coastal and remote Australia they haven't had any COVID cases, and if they have, those cases have been very minimal and not for many, many months. Despite that, they've had limitations placed upon them. They have risen magnificently to the challenge, to what they've been asked to do to keep their areas and our nation COVID free. For that I say, we all say: 'Thank you very much.'

Certainly, I know that the assistance this government has provided to those regions and to the nation as a whole has been very much appreciated, particularly, as I say, in regional Australia. Our support has come through many programs, including Regional Recovery Partnerships—partnering with local communities to deliver targeted, localised development opportunities for 10 regions, including the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region in the member for Dawson's electorate. This $100 million investment backs in existing local plans and priorities, boosting jobs. I went around a lot of Australia during the break—north-west New South Wales, Northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and elsewhere—and I saw a lot of hi-vis workers out there building infrastructure, everything from just sealing roads, little dusty roads in the member for Parkes's electorate, right through to major bridge infrastructure. We're getting the job done, and we're doing it with states. We're doing it with the 537 councils, through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. I know that that has been very well received, particularly in the member for Dawson's electorate, by Burdekin Shire Council, Mackay Regional Council, Townsville City Council and Whitsunday Regional Council. They're doers, just like the member for Dawson. They want to make sure that they recover from COVID as best they can, and we're helping them.