Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


Flynn Electorate

7:35 pm

Photo of Chris KetterChris Ketter (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to talk about Labor's commitment to Gladstone and the federal electorate of Flynn, which is one of my duty electorates. It is important to note that, at a time when the National Party are tearing themselves apart over the antics of the Deputy Prime Minister and are focused on themselves, Labor is focused on the people of regional Queensland. I'm so proud that the opposition leader, Mr Shorten, last Friday visited Gladstone and made a very important announcement in relation to the Gladstone Port Access Road. Mr Shorten committed $100 million to commence the work there, which will happen in the first term of a Shorten Labor government. This is part of Labor's plan for real jobs in regional Queensland: investing in infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, agriculture and energy, getting on with the job of supporting industry, and creating and sustaining jobs in regional Queensland. We know that there are regional hubs in Gladstone, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Cairns.

What does this announcement mean for Gladstone? Many people describe Gladstone as being the jewel in the industrial crown of Australia. For the people of Gladstone this means 200 extra local jobs. The Port of Gladstone is one of the most important pieces of economic infrastructure in Central Queensland. It is on Infrastructure Australia's priority list. The amount of commodities and throughput that goes through the Port of Gladstone is absolutely essential for Australia's export earnings, and access to that port is critical. Export growth is reliant on access to the port. It's interesting to note that our Premier just last week made reference to the fact that Queensland is the export capital of Australia. We earned a record nearly $70 billion from exports last year, which is up at a faster rate than the rest of the country. The rest of the country's exports grew at 16 per cent, but that's not as fast as the rate of growth for Queensland. One in every four dollars Australia earns from exports is generated in Queensland. This is up by $25 billion on the last full calendar year of the former Newman LNP government, so the Labor government of Queensland is delivering for the people of Queensland and for Australia.

Labor has already committed $100 million to ensure Townsville's water security, $200 million for a hydro-electric generator at the Burdekin dam, $167 million for the Rookwood Weir to help shore up future water supplies for Rockhampton and Gladstone, $1 billion for a Northern Australia tourism infrastructure fund—an advisory panel to ensure Labor is ready to deliver tourism projects if elected—and a $1 billion Australian manufacturing future fund. Additionally, in contrast to our political opponents, we are committed to restoring penalty rates, not cutting them; standing up for mining workers, not making their jobs more precarious; and reviewing free trade agreement protocols to expedite export opportunities for produce growers, particularly in the hinterland of the seat of Flynn. Labor are committed to regional Queensland and we can prove it. Federal leader Bill Shorten has held 16 town hall meetings throughout regional Queensland, one of which I co-hosted in Gladstone. He is on the ground listening and developing policies for regional Queenslanders. In the last six months I personally visited Longreach, Barcaldine, Winton, Boonah, Mount Morgan, Rockhampton and Emerald, and I've been to Gladstone on many occasions since my election as a senator.

I'm proud to support Zac Beers, our federal candidate for Flynn in 2016. I know that Zac has been very active in the local community, and I thank him for bringing local issues to my attention as they arise. In contrast, the LNP have done nothing for the area. The Gladstone port land and sea access upgrade has been listed on the Infrastructure Australia priority list for a number of years, but Mr O'Dowd has done nothing to progress that project. Today we had reports in the Gladstone Observer that, in spite of his failure to deliver jobs and infrastructure, Mr O'Dowd is ready to throw up his hand to replace the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. Maybe then the member for Flynn will have the clout to get the Prime Minister to visit the seat of Flynn. Labor has a positive plan and a leader who is a regular in the region. The Liberal Party can't be bothered. (Time expired)