Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation, Senator McKenzie. How is the Liberal-National government's strong economic management benefitting those Australians living in regional areas?
I thank Senator Williams for his questions. He knows that when the regions are strong so too is Australia. He's championed this his entire senatorial career.
Regional Australia produces over 30 per cent of our GDP and 70 per cent of our exports and drives the wealth production across our nation. The Liberal-National government's focus on returning the budget to surplus for the first time in more than a decade means that we can invest further in the areas that Australians care about. There will be additional tax relief to support hardworking regional Australians—the public school teachers, the nurses, the tradies in our communities—with more than $1,000 of their hard-earned dollars back in their pockets because of our changes. This will help, no matter where we live.
We are investing to help people get home to their families safer and sooner, connecting our regions as part of our record $100 billion investment in our nation's infrastructure. This will help manage our growing population, improve freight and transport routes for our fabulous fresh produce, connect communities and reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.
Returning the budget to surplus is not an abstract concept; it produces real benefits and outcomes for people right across the country. No longer an abstract construct in this country will be fast rail. We have put $2 billion on the table to connect Melbourne to Geelong. We've also invested in developing eight business cases to connect east coast regional capitals with the regions. The budget surplus also allows us to invest in the Building Better Regions Fund to improve and support growth and local jobs in our regional community. It also means we're able to invest in our young people, so critical to our prosperity, and to support them with vocational training, apprenticeships and, in times of difficulty, mental health, sport and suicide-prevention programs. This is what real fiscal— (Time expired)
There are a hundred billion reasons why regional Australia should be excited about our investment in key infrastructure. There's the additional $1 billion we're adding to the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, to take our total investment to over $4.5 billion, to provide long-lasting benefits long after the construction finishes. Through this initiative we're investing in over 25 key freight corridors, including feeder roads, to more efficiently connect agriculture and mining regions to our ports, airports and other transport hubs. There's more than $2 billion to improve road safety and there are dedicated programs to improve roads right across rural and regional Australia. As local government minister, I know the vital role that local councils play in identifying and improving local roads, and, because of this sound fiscal management, we're able to provide $1.1 billion to local councils right across Australia to improve their local roads through our iconic Roads to Recovery Program.
That is not such a curly one after all, because I think the greatest risk to the prosperity of our nation, and through hampering the productive capacity of the regions, of the agriculture sector, of the mining sector, is those people opposite, because of the dirty deal that they will do with our economy-wrecking Greens, who actually want to see the end of the mining industry, employing hundreds of thousands of Australians in the regions.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Why are the CFMEU forestry and mining divisions not saying to you, 'What is your preference deal?' and why are you actually going to stand with these people who are going to put your own members out of work? There is one reason, if you're a regional Australian, to back a Liberal-National coalition and the budget: we will look after your families, we'll look after your jobs and we'll provide a safe, prosperous future. (Time expired)
Opposition senators interjecting—