| May 30, 2017
Matter of Public Importance speech- Infrastructure
Mr DRUM: It is always great to get a lecture from the Labor Party on infrastructure. Where I come from in Victoria we had to put up with a Labor premier there, who stood on the corner of one of the main streets and just threw away $100 bills until he had run out of $1.2 billion. He decided not to build a road and it cost him $1.2 billion. The Labor Party in this great Australian parliament are fully supportive of this Premier's decision to spend $1.2 billion of taxpayers' money not to build a road. Then he put that project over to Infrastructure Victoria, and they threw it straight back at him and said, 'It's one of the three most important projects that we need to build, and we have thrown that project away.' Every time you get stuck in the traffic in Melbourne, you can thank Daniel Andrews and the Labor Party people here who refuse to take up the challenge to him for that deplorable act, that deplorable effort, on infrastructure in the great state of Victoria.
When those opposite say that this budget is all smoke and mirrors on infrastructure, I do not know what planet they have come from. We are going to get the Inland Rail project started. It is going to connect Melbourne through to Brisbane, with an offshoot at Parkes to connect Sydney. It is going to be built; it is going to get started this year. I do not know where the problem is in relation to understanding that this government is getting on with the job. If you are still not convinced, you can come to my electorate and I will take you over to the City of Echuca and show you the bridge that is being built. It was a National Party in the Victorian government that put $95 million on the table. The Labor Party have been in government—and they are back in government now—and they did not want to know about this bridge. The community have been fighting for it for 50 years. There was the $95 million that went to Victoria, and when we had the opportunity with Darren Chester, as the National Party minister, we put $97 million on the table from the federal government, and then we got the National Party in New South Wales to commit their $90-odd million. It is a $280 million bridge. The drilling rigs are there now and the bore samples are being taken. The bulldozers are moving round the roundabouts. We are building the bridge that has taken 50 years of the Labor Party doing absolutely nothing. The bridge is getting built. When you get the Inland Rail—
Mr DRUM: You can support him all you like; I am just saying to you that I think you all have to question yourselves if you think that it is good economics to spend $1.2 billion to do nothing on a project that has now been put forward.
The Inland Rail will not only connect these great cities with each other by a freight lane but also take all of these trucks off the main roads of Australia. The area around the Goulburn Valley, which I represent, is one of the biggest food producing regions in Australia and, with that, comes an incredibly large fleet of trucks. The biggest number of truck registrations outside of Melbourne and Sydney exists in the city of Shepparton. We will now see many of those trucks being able to do their work locally and regionally and they will not have to go interstate in the way that they used to. Apart from the road safety component, this will drive down the cost of getting your product from the farms to the market and from the processors to the market.
In relation to infrastructure around the seat of Murray, this budget provides for $100 million to be committed to the North East line. Under the Labor Party in Victoria, the North East line, along with the Shepparton line and the Gippsland rail line, have been left to deteriorate where we have a situation where the services are inconsistent. The services are always late. They are slower than they were 40 years ago. The $100 million is going to be spent to fix the North East line. There will also be $10 million to be used to ensure that we do a comprehensive plan for transport right throughout the Goulburn Valley. It will take on board freight needs, passenger rail, road transport and what we need to do to have a decent airport—similar to the way that Wagners have got their airport up and running in southern Queensland.