Private Members Business – Economy
Mr PITT: I certainly move to support this motion put forward by Mr Leeser, my good friend and colleague.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Proceedings suspended from 17:58 to 18:23
Mr PITT: In continuance, once again I congratulate the member for Berowra on putting forward such a motion. Of course, the coalition government is absolutely committed to delivering what it said it would deliver during the last election campaign. That includes our $100 billion infrastructure plan over the next 10 years. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker McVeigh, being a regional member, this infrastructure plan is critical for our connective infrastructure, for growth, particularly in the regions, and for ensuring increases in productivity. And, of course, those increases in productivity make us much more competitive when we look at world trade.
As the member for Berowra has stated, we are pursuing free trade deals with the EU and through RCEP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. That arrangement in particular, the RCEP agreement, is worth trillions and trillions of dollars in terms of the arrangements we can make with those nations. Whilst it’s been a challenging discussion—almost as challenging as this—I look forward to being in continuance.
Sitting suspended from 18:24 to 18:29
Mr PITT: As I was saying, not only will our $100 billion investment in infrastructure help drive regional productivity; it will allow our producers to be more competitive, particularly in terms of trade deals and arrangements overseas. What we in this place all know is that trade means jobs for Australia, and more trade means more jobs. We have already been successful in terms of those trade arrangements through agreements with China, South Korea and other countries. That has helped lift productivity and jobs in regional areas—in particular, in the agricultural sector. Agriculture is now worth over $60 billion, and the coalition government has a plan to drive that to $100 billion in the future. But that can’t be done without the correct infrastructure—in particular, water and transport infrastructure.
Regardless of what we talk about in this place at a national level, all stories are local. For the people of my electorate of Hinkler, where we have any number of challenges, we are driving commercial operations to be more successful, to have better operations and to have more jobs to help drive our regional economy. We are doing that with record infrastructure investments. The Hinkler regional deal, which was announced last year, is a commitment of $173 million from the federal government across a range of projects from connecting roads and infrastructure, to port studies and all the way through to a multi-purpose conveyor at the Bundaberg port, which will be constructed with a 100 per cent grant from the federal government. But that assumes that the Queensland Labor government will decide to get on board. They have been dragging their heels to date. They continue to refuse to sign documents—
An opposition member interjecting—
Mr PITT: We hear interjections from those opposite about dams. We have had billions of dollars on the table for dams and, quite simply, the Queensland Labor government have not picked them up—not a single one. In fact, their current proposal is to reduce the capacity of the Paradise Dam, not repair it. They want to drop the dam level by 10 metres or 15 metres. That will result in a reliability level of 60 per cent for irrigators. That does not help us with our trade and export plans.
We have opportunities here, but we know that the true Premier of Queensland, Jackie Trad, is not on board. We need her to step up and help the people of regional communities. We cannot continue to sit around and have the federal government commit such large amounts of money and the state refuse to build them. We need them to get on board. We need them to build the roads. We need them to accept the money to build that connective infrastructure, particularly in our port. They continue to play games. They play games with the people of my electorate. These are individuals who are desperate for work. And yet we find that Queensland Labor, once again, are getting in the way of progress. They have no interest in our people—none.
Everyone on the opposite side knows the Constitution and what it sets aside for individual states and their responsibilities. We cannot make them build a road, but we need them to do it. We have put up our contribution—80 per cent for those connecting roads. In fact, we have a safety intersection on the Bruce Highway at Buxton. We have put forward $10 million. This is a substantial infrastructure investment, but the state refuses to play ball. We cannot continue to argue with ourselves when we are funding so much important infrastructure to drive jobs, to drive regional economies, and have the Queensland Labor government continue to get in the way.