PMB – Infrastructure
Mr PITT (Hinkler): Firstly, I congratulate the member for Canberra, who is a passionate advocate for her community. Whilst I don’t agree with many of the things she said, she is definitely a passionate advocate. Can I say to the member for Canberra: in the gap between parliamentary sittings, in my home state we had seven fatalities in seven days on the Bruce Highway. I don’t think that anyone in this place would take away an opportunity to reduce those risks. I acknowledge that there are lots of people who do work here in Canberra on behalf of the public and I congratulate them on their work, but I’ll be the first to advocate that we should share that wealth with the rest of the country, and I am a supporter of decentralisation.
Back to the matter at hand, I point out to the member for Herbert, who stated very publicly in her contribution that there was no infrastructure spending in Townsville in the seat of Herbert, that I’m fairly confident there is a giant brand-new stadium in Townsville. I’m very confident that there has been money invested in roads. In fact, Townsville received a city deal under this government, which has been of great benefit to the people of Townsville. I acknowledge Phillip Thompson, who has been picked as the Liberal National Party candidate for Herbert, a veteran and advocate for veterans. I think he will do an outstanding job, and I’m sure he looks forward to the contest.
Coming back to the matter at hand, I have to say that the Labor Party can be a bit cute, particularly the member for Grayndler—he does cute exceptionally well. His claims there are cuts in infrastructure budget—they’re just making them up. You need to consider the fact that there is equity, that there are loans and that the total investment package is enormous. We are investing $75 billion over the next 10 years under our Infrastructure Investment Program. The member for Grayndler also makes points about payments. Payments are made for milestones. Unless the member for Grayndler is suggesting that the Australian taxpayer should pay for things which have not yet been delivered, I think he may well have his numbers incorrect. Things change on projects all the time, particularly ones which are large. I know it hasn’t rained for some time in your area, Mr Deputy Speaker Gee, but it actually does rain, and that affects projects. Things shift and, unless you meet your project milestones, you don’t get your money. They are taxpayer funds after all.
Let’s look at what is happening in Queensland, my home state. I congratulate the Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development and the previous infrastructure ministers on their commitment to the Bruce Highway. That coastal highway is the lifeline into regional Queensland. Some $10 billion has been committed since 2013. Unfortunately, if you are killed on a national highway, odds are you were driving on the Bruce Highway in Queensland. We are looking to invest as much as possible to improve the safety of that incredibly important piece of infrastructure.
The people of my electorate are concerned. We’ve upgraded a number of intersections: an $8 million upgrade near Childers; $6 million for an overtaking lane north of Howard, a small town in the middle of the electorate; $4½ million to widen a four-kilometre stretch near Adies Road at Apple Tree Creek; $7.1 million for the widening of the highway for 2.2 kilometres near Wongi State Forest south of Torbanlea, where we tragically had an incident which resulted in a fatality just months ago; $700,000 for widening the seven-kilometre stretch near Booyal; $3.4 million for road-widening works near Pig Creek and Little Pig Creek between Childers and Torbanlea; and $14.9 million towards the Apple Tree Creek upgrade. This is real money that makes real improvements to safety on those roads. It also makes them less affected by flooding, which is very important in Queensland, where we get the monsoon in the north and very unstable weather patterns.
When we’re looking to build our economy, this linking infrastructure is incredibly important. Just last week in conjunction with the Bundaberg Regional Council we announced $2.5 million for an upgrade for Buss Street at the Port of Bundaberg under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. This is an area where our economy can continue to grow. The Knauf factory in the regional town of Bundaberg has now been completed and is manufacturing plasterboard for distribution throughout Queensland. That couldn’t have happened without support for a gas pipeline, and they do need the connecting infrastructure. The port already exports wood pellets and sugar. They are looking for further opportunities, so connecting infrastructure is incredibly important. Under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative in the last budget some $3.5 billion was committed towards that linking infrastructure. In Hervey Bay $500,000 was announced just last week for heavy vehicle parking at Nikenbah under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. This will allow a safe area for the disconnection and decoupling of B-doubles and semitrailers to allow them to move safely into the city of Hervey Bay. These are important things for the people we represent. The linking infrastructure helps build our economy. A stronger economy means more jobs, which is what we’re all about, particularly in regional Australia.