House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Questions without Notice


2:20 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 continued investment in regional infrastructure is creating stability and a stronger Australia as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?

2:21 pm

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

I do thank the member for Mallee for her question. She, like every member on this side of the House, and one in particular on that side of the House, knows full well the importance of the rollout of infrastructure in creating jobs—and more on that little thing later. As part of the government's—

Hon. Members:

Honourable members interjecting

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

I'll keep you in suspense! As part of the government's $110 billion infrastructure pipeline—that is supporting 100,000 jobs—we have, in the member's electorate of Mallee, and in Wannon, invested an additional $200.2 million to undertake the next stage of the upgrade and standardisation of the Murray-Darling Basin freight rail network. This project will see the standardisation of the railway line between Mildura and Geelong, two very vibrant places that we want to be even better.

Mr Marles interjecting

The member for Corio agrees with me now. This additional funding would not have happened without fierce advocacy of this project from the member for Mallee and the member for Wannon. The remediation works will create significant economic activity along the line, supporting local businesses and local procurement—so important—and creating a thousand additional jobs. Now, these types of jobs in regional Australia have significant flow-on right through the local economies, and that's what we're doing with every part and portion of our rollout of infrastructure over the next decade. That's what we are providing.

The extra funding includes $5 million for planning the next stages to fully standardise the Murray-Darling Basin network—$5 million for planning—and that's going to be critical too. I absolutely call on the Victorian government to join us in the completion of this vital project. It is crucial that a reliable rail network be available to officially move this grain. And the member for Mallee knows just how diverse what is going to be transported is—grain, as I say, mineral sands, fruit and vegetables, wine—to encourage more of that freight off the road network and onto the rail network.

But, when you are talking infrastructure, you do get support from different quarters and allies from places and people that you would not expect. Certainly, that was the case when four days ago I saw a tweet from none other than the shadow minister for infrastructure, supporting what we are doing as part of rail in Victoria. Wendouree Station now has a second platform—all part of Victoria's regional rail revival. 'New infrastructure,' she declared, 'for regional communities'—and here's the punch line—'great to see!' It is great to see, Member for Ballarat. It is fantastic!

Opposition members interjecting

I'm getting a clap from the member for Sydney. She loves the Victorian rail upgrades too! Of the $601 million for the Ballarat upgrade, $503 million is coming from the Liberal and Nationals government. And I know all members opposite love it! (Time expired)