MPI – Regional Australia
Mr PITT (15:57): I come back to what’s in the title of the MPI. This is the allegation from those opposite: neglect of regional Australians and a misuse of taxpayers’ money. Let’s have a look at what’s actually happened in my electorate and let’s see them defend some of those things.
As I know you know, Mr Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien, I just recently opened a palliative care facility at Hervey Bay to service the people of the Fraser Coast. Are those opposite seriously alleging that is a misuse of taxpayers’ funds? This is $7 million from the Commonwealth. The state members are nowhere to be seen. The new state Labor member for Hervey Bay is in witness protection. You can’t even get him out of his office. The people whom he and the state Labor member for Maryborough represent will have access to this facility at a very difficult time in their lives. There is $7 million for this facility, and I am absolutely proud to deliver that money to our region and our community for this purpose, because it will be incredibly strongly used in what is a difficult and emotional time for most individuals and their families. So these are the types of things that we are delivering into our communities, and those opposite allege this is a misuse of taxpayers’ money.
Mr Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien, I know that you’re very passionate about road safety, so let’s look at some of the things that we’ve delivered in regional communities in my electorate. There is $4 million for a set of overtaking lanes on the Isis Highway between Bundaberg and Childers, where a fatal accident occurred some years ago and local community members lost their lives. How is that a misuse of taxpayers’ money?
We have $10 million on the table for the Buxton Road intersection; I know you drive past it, Mr Deputy Speaker Llew O’Brien. This was championed by the Deputy Mayor of Bundaberg and former mayor of the Isis district and Childers, Mr Bill Trevor. We know there is a small riverside village at the end of Buxton Road that uses this intersection with the Bruce Highway at the Isis River. It is an area of significant concern, and we have had $10 million on the table for a number of years, yet still we wait for the Queensland Labor government to actually deliver these facilities through the NPA that we have with Queensland for road construction and delivery. They continue to push it out, and they say they’re about to get going somewhere soon.
But I’ll turn to another part of the Hinkler Regional Deal, and that is the Royal Flying Doctor Service Aeromedical Training Centre. We’ve committed $15 million for this facility. In this MPI, those opposite are alleging this is a misuse of taxpayers’ money—the Royal Flying Doctor Service! This is $15 million towards a new training facility which the RFDS will utilise with their new fleet when they replace their existing fleets as they come to the end of their operational life. We know that it will add more than 1,000 accommodation nights into the region of Bundaberg, just for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The Bundaberg Regional Council has come on board with some land to support this facility. They were a little bit hesitant earlier—they wanted to charge $550,000 for it—but they did come to their senses, after some prodding. This is an incredibly worthy project that not only will help to train the Royal Flying Doctor Service pilots in their new aircraft but will continue to ensure that they are safe, in terms of their operation and competence into the future. This is a service that goes out into the regions and helps people not only in my electorate but right across parts of eastern Queensland and into the west. This is a significant investment, and I’m very pleased it is moving forward.
There is the $10 million for the multi-use conveyor at the Port of Bundaberg, which can help us add to the regional economy. That is 100 per cent funded by the Commonwealth, yet still we wait for the owner of the board of Bundaberg to deliver this piece of equipment. Who owns it? It’s the Queensland state government, currently led by the Labor Party. They won’t deliver what will build our local economy and will help our local port to grow and increase its capacity. Still we continue to wait.
The list just goes on and on and on, yet those opposite want to suggest that this is a misuse of taxpayers’ money. That is just outrageous. If we get down to the Stronger Communities Program—Mr Deputy Speaker, as you know, every member of parliament has access to this small program—these grants are absolutely welcomed by local community groups. Imagine going to the local rowing club—the Bundaberg Rowing Club secured just over $7,000 for a new trailer—and telling them that is a misuse of taxpayer funds.
What are those opposite seriously suggesting? I know they want to make a lot of noise and a lot of political points, but the reality is places like Bundaberg Bowls Club; the Guides Queensland Elouera—new kitchen benches for them; the Bundaberg Small Bore Rifle Club; LiveFlight; Bundaberg Croquet Club—the list goes on and on and on. These are small community groups who can’t raise this sort of money on lamington drives and sausage sizzles. I am very pleased to continue to deliver opportunities into my electorate and into regional Australia, not just to grow jobs but to help make our communities stronger and better into the future.