Thursday, 18 June 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Senator Cash. Can the minister outline to the Senate how the Liberal-National government's infrastructure pipeline, including the Roads of Strategic Importance program, is supporting Australian jobs and assisting regional communities, businesses and producers in their post-pandemic recovery?
I thank Senator Canavan for the question. As Senator Canavan well knows, the Liberal-National government support rural and regional Australia, because that is exactly what is in our DNA. In terms of our commitment to regional transport infrastructure, Senator Canavan, you'd be aware that, since 2013-14, it now totals more than $30 billion. This is of course delivering real outcomes for regional communities. What's it doing? It's improving roads and rail to better connect regional communities.
Programs which regional Australia is benefiting from include: the Black Spot Program, Roads to Recovery, the Bridges Renewal Program, the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, and of course, as Senator Canavan has referred to, the $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance initiative. This program, the government's Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, is a major program for supporting and developing the transport networks across key corridors in regional Australia. The program itself primarily supports network improvements, which involves packages of investment to raise the standard of roads, including feeder roads, to provide more reliable road networks. The corridor approach provides more reliable road networks, improves access for high-capacity vehicles, better connects regional communities and of course facilitates tourism opportunities, and those tourism opportunities will be further facilitated if, obviously, states and territories would actually open up their borders.
Senator Canavan, in terms of Queensland in particular, it is benefiting now from over $1 billion of committed funding under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, and this includes key investments, including the Mount Isa to Rockhampton corridor upgrade and the Townsville to Roma corridor upgrade.
Great news from the minister. Can the minister also inform the Senate on how projects like the Yeppoon-Rockhampton road duplication and the sealing of the Springsure-Tambo road will increase safety and boost tourism for these communities?
As Senator Canavan would be aware, the government has committed $64 million to the Yeppoon-Rockhampton road duplication, and this project will deliver targeted upgrades, including duplicating sections of Yeppoon Road. In terms of the project, it is expected to deliver increased economic productivity by reducing cost to industry through better network efficiencies. It will improve road safety by reducing unsafe overtaking and the associated risks of head-on collisions. It will also increase route capacity to accommodate future growth in traffic volume through increases in economic activity in the region.
Regarding the Springsure to Tambo project that Senator Canavan raised, this is another great example of the investment by the Liberal-National government where we have committed $40 million, which will directly support local producers. We understand that this type of investment will assist regional Australia.
Can the minister inform the Senate of what can be done to fast-track many of those great road projects you've mentioned under programs like the Roads of Strategic Importance program and to inject much-needed money into regions hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and help local communities?
In the Liberal-National government, we understand that we need to work closely with states and territories to fast-track infrastructure where and when possible. In fast-tracking infrastructure, you create jobs, as with our recent announcement in terms of creating around 66,000 jobs. On 29 April, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that works to seal roads, build overtaking lanes, upgrade intersections and improve safety will start sooner rather than later under an agreement reached between the Australian and the Queensland governments on 22 jointly funded regional road projects worth, Senator Canavan, $185 million. These early works projects will be delivered on corridors identified under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, and delivering early works through this initiative will give regional Queensland communities access to new projects and of course much-needed jobs.