Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Central Queensland

7:45 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As I have said on a number of occasions in this chamber, Central Queensland needs jobs. It needs jobs desperately and it needs projects that produce jobs.

Senator Canavan interjecting

Senator Canavan should know that better than anyone else. But, sadly, Senator Canavan, the member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, and the Turnbull government as a whole continue to neglect Central Queensland.

We all know about the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility—the $5 billion facility that was established two years ago and that has still not funded one single project. We all know about the beef roads program which was created two years ago. Still, not $1 has been spent on getting one actual road under construction in Central Queensland. And there is program after program that are exactly same in Central Queensland—buckets of money have been set aside by the Turnbull government and not one shovel has been put into the ground and not one job has been created. There has been nothing more than a press release and highly paid salaries for board directors.

This year's federal budget was no different. At the time of the federal budget I spoke about the fact that it provided no new funding for no new projects and no new jobs for Central Queensland. Instead, we had the pathetic sight of the member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, getting around like a used car salesperson who was winding back the odometer on a dodgy lemon of a car and trying to pass off past projects and past funding as new. In actual fact, this federal budget did not provide one single dollar for a new project despite the fact that Central Queensland is crying out for jobs.

Thankfully, there is one party in Australian politics and one government in this country that does understand that Central Queensland needs new funding, new projects and new jobs not in future but right now. And that is the Palaszczuk Labor government in Queensland. I was very pleased to see today the state budget brought down by the Queensland Labor government, which announced a number of new projects and new funding to revitalise Rockhampton and Central Queensland as a whole to actually get jobs happening in Central Queensland rather than just promises of something down the track. To give just a few examples: $12 million was provided by the Queensland government to repair and restore Rockhampton court house; nearly $7 million was provided to upgrade high-voltage central energy generation for Rockhampton Hospital; $2 million was provided to move the Rockhampton Art Gallery; more funding was provided for road developments; $1 million was provided for a new fire rescue and specialised operation training facility; and $500,000 was provided to commence redevelopment of the Rockhampton ambulance station and operation centre. That money—millions and millions of dollars of funding—will actually provide jobs for Central Queensland right now, when they are needed, instead of all of these mythical promises that we get from Senator Canavan, the member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, and their colleagues in the government about there being better times ahead for Central Queensland but nothing in the short-term.

Those announcements—that, as I mentioned, were made today—are actually backed up by a range of other new funding that was provided in this state budget to back in announcements that had been made very recently by the Premier.

Senator Canavan interjecting

One of them might be of particular interest to Senator Canavan—that is, the flood levy that the Shorten Labor federal opposition has committed to put funds in for. Today's state budget provided $25 million—money on the table—from the Palaszczuk Labor government to actually build a flood levy that everyone in Rockhampton knows the city needs. Everyone knows that except Michelle Landry, the member for Capricornia, and, it would appear, Senator Canavan who want to have yet another survey. This would be about the fifth or sixth level of consultation that has been undertaken about a flood levy. While all this consultation occurs, we know that Rockhampton is at risk of seeing more and more floods like we saw earlier this year and like what we have seen about four times in the last decade. Rather than actually put money on the table to do these things, like the Palaszczuk government was able to do today, instead we have more dithering from the LNP—and who knows how long it will take before we have another flood in Rockhampton—rather than actually getting this flood levy built to prevent these floods from happening in the future.

So there were a range of new announcements today in the state budget. There were a range of existing announcements that were backed in by funding for the first time—money for the Yeppoon foreshore revitalisation, money for social housing, money to Stanwell Power Station. There was announcement after announcement by the state Labor government, which shows that it actually understands that what Central Queensland needs is jobs right now and funding right now, not promises about something down the track and not more business plans and feasibility studies and scoping studies for things that may or may not happen. We actually need jobs in Central Queensland, right now, today. That is what Central Queensland needs, and thank God that we have one party in Australian politics, one government in Australia, that actually understands that. It is not the Turnbull L-NP government; it is the Palaszczuk Labor government.