Senate debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Statements by Senators


3:00 pm

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is less than 50 days, just 48 days, to the next stunning beef week in Rockhampton. We are really looking forward to this week, because months after beef week we were meant to start work on the Beef Roads Program. Just under two years ago the coalition committed $400 million to seal 450 kilometres of roads through Central Queensland. These are shocking roads that we make our beef producers traverse on a daily basis. Some of these roads, like the Springsure Tambo road, are like a beach. I've seen pictures of kids standing in them up to their knees in sand. Those are the roads that our truck drivers and beef producers have to drive over on a daily basis, taking their own lives in their hands and, of course, costing their businesses thousands of dollars.

That was going to be fixed, because we were going to put $400 million to sealing these roads. Obviously they are also used by locals in these remote areas. They're used by coal miners who go to and from work as well. So these roads were going to be safer for many thousands of Queenslanders

But unfortunately the Labor government has stripped away funding for the beef roads just before beef week. In the dark of night we only found out in Senate estimates a few weeks ago that although the program was meant to start next year, no announcement was made by the Government. We only found out by the spreadsheets that get delivered to us in Senate estimates that in fact the $50 million that was due to be spent in 2025-26 is gone. It is no longer. The $50 million 2026-27 is gone. In fact $100 million is stripped out of the forward estimates from this program.

The government will say, 'It's still there—most of the funding now is in the 2030s.' How can you believe any promise that is now more than five years away? The people of Central Queensland produce so much for this country, including the lovely steaks we all like to enjoy. Our farmers deserve to have safe roads to drive on. The Government should reverse the decision and get these roads going to start beef week this year.


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