House debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2021


New England Electorate: Infrastructure

7:55 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to say a big good evening to the people of Tamworth and especially the people around Dungowan. I give a big shout-out to Kevin Smith at the Dungowan Hotel. This morning in the newspaper—I also heard it on Prime last night—there was a report on the replacement of the Fishers Bridge. This is totally correct: it is going to be replaced. But the thing they missed was that the Commonwealth is putting funding towards it. I think it's incumbent upon me to make sure that the Australian taxpayer knows that we went into bat for, fought for and achieved $582,500 which is part of the payment to construct that vital piece of infrastructure.

While we're talking about bridges, I want to go through a few others that we're also supporting. There's the Paddy's Flat Road bridge north. There's about $365,000 there. That's a replacement of the existing timber bridge with a new concrete structure. There's the Martin's Gully and Shambrook Avenue bridge. There's the Paddy's Flat Road bridge south and a replacement of the existing timber bridge with a new concrete structure. There's the Benama Bridge over Goonoo Goonoo Creek. There's the Retreat Bridge. This is the big one. It is in excess of a million dollars. That is between Bendemeer and Kingston, just to help people, on the most direct route from Tamworth to Inverell, a place I'll be going to in the next couple of days. There's the Yarrow Creek Bridge replacement on Mount Mitchell Road.

A nation is the things that make it—bridges, dams, roads, rail and power. It is my part for the people of New England, which is the centre of my job down here, to look after them so we can deliver bridges, dams, roads, rail and power. We all know about the dams such as Dungowan Dam, but it is beyond that too. There is Quipolly Dam, which we worked on, and also Mole River Dam in the north of the electorate.

There's rail. When I had the position, I fought for and achieved in excess of $10 billion for the Inland Rail and now they are building it. There is also the upgrade of our other sections of rail which are vitally important to create a conduit of commerce which will come from that infrastructure into Tamworth. You might think: what's it got to do with Tamworth? The culverts and the concrete parts of the Inland Rail are being constructed in Taminda, in Tamworth. That money is coming back into our great city so that we can employ people and also drive the economy of New England forward.

Power is part of the debate that's going to happen down here. I know that we've had a lot of conjecture on issues of power in New England. We're starting to now see a bit of pushback on renewables by landholders. I think that is something that people have to be aware of in how we manage that. All things in moderation. That's not saying that all renewables are bad or that we shouldn't be making some movement towards renewables, but we have to acknowledge those people who are starting to say, 'You have to listen to the other side of the discussion on this.'

That is why I think our nation has to take the big step towards nuclear. Why should we do that? Because small modular reactors are now becoming part of the future of the globe. Small modular reactors are going to give us capacity for a vastly safer form of nuclear energy to replace especially decommissioned coal-fired power plants. We must have dispatchable power. We must have the capacity to flick the switch and have power going along the lines. It has to work like that. We have to make this nation strong if we are going to survive in a world where China is a superpower and we might be having a slide in the comparable effect of the United States of America. So we have to make the move to nuclear. We have to build HELE coal-fired power plants. We have to make sure that, first and foremost, as we go forward, we make our nation a stronger place. If we are making our nation a stronger place then we really are handing over to our sons, daughters and grandchildren the legacy that they require.

Opposition Member:

An opposition member interjecting

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I don't know whether to take the interjection from the Labor member, but it's not something to be laughed at. Trying to make sure our nation remains a strong place is not something to be laughed at. So how are we going to do that? We're going to do it by building bridges, dams, roads and rail and by constructing new baseload power for our nation. If we do that, which includes things such as Fishers Bridge, we'll make our nation a stronger place.

House adjourned at 20:00