| November 28, 2016

Damian Drum MP speaks about the National Stronger Regions Fund

Delivered: House of Representatives, Parliament House, 29 November 2016.

I suppose it is a very similar pattern that we see in this chamber: firstly, we have a Labor member standing up accusing the National Party of pork-barrelling.

We are quite happy to have the Labor Party talking about Nationals pork-barrelling projects in our regions.

We know it is not the case but we do like being accused just the same.

I suppose it is also par for the course when we have the former Treasurer standing up saying that we need to borrow more and we need to increase national debt.

He says if we are going to work our way out of this low economic growth, the best way is to just borrow more money and spend more money.

A government member: Glad he's not the Treasurer.

Mr Drum: Well he was the Treasurer and I think he is in that sphere.

The Nationals understand that it simply costs more to deliver projects and it costs more to deliver services in the regions than what it does in our major regional cities or in our capital cities.

Unless we are prepared to make these additional investments into our communities, then we are always going to have people in regional areas, country areas and remote areas who are going to have less services and are going to live a lesser standard of living because they do not have a government that understands their way of thinking.

That is why the National Party and projects like the Building Better Regions Fund and the National Stronger Regions Fund are so important and so critical, increasing the investment from government in areas such as communications.

We understand that in the six years that Labor were in government under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years not one government co-investment in communication black-spot towers was made.

We had a whole raft of communities around Australia who cannot engage in what they would call normal communications.

They cannot conduct their business and they cannot conduct their normal social phone calls anywhere around Australia simply because a Labor Party has no understanding about the need for co-investment.

It is similar with energy costs.

Energy costs, currently, in many of the states are going through the roof but we have ideological governments at state level that are simply aiming for a reduction in gas and shutting down coal, leading to increased energy costs around regional Australia.

This is having a huge impact again on the cost of energy and on jobs around Australia and around the world.

It is also worth thinking about some of the projects inside and just outside of my region that have been funded through the National Stronger Regions Fund.

The first one that comes to mind is Warramunda Village in Kyabram.

Warramunda received a fraction under $1 million as part of round 3 of the National Stronger Regions Fund.

This investment is primarily going to assist with an $8 million to $9 million investment in a dementia ward.

Dementia is something that is becoming more and more prevalent around our aged-care facilities as the people who are coming into our aged-care facilities are getting older and, therefore, there is an increase in the percentage of those residents suffering from dementia.

In nearby electorates we had a $2.4 million investment in the Bendigo Tennis Association proposal.

That project has been waiting some four or five years for funding.

Again, the local knowledge of the politicians in that area meant they were able to make a good case as to why that project should get up.

The Shepparton Art Museum has received $10 million from Senator Nash.

It is part of a $40 million build for what will be a world-class art museum for a place like Shepparton, which is desperate to bridge that cultural gap that it as yet has not quite been able to.

We are also hoping that the National Stronger Regions Fund will help La Trobe University expand in Shepparton.

They are looking for some assistance there.

They are very eager to look into the application stage of the National Stronger Regions Fund.

If they are able to get that, certainly a contribution will assist in them growing even more nursing courses for the region of the Goulburn Valley.

The National Stronger Regions Fund is now going to offer a greater opportunity because it is not just going to be for bricks and mortar but it is also going to be for opportunities to do with leadership, community capacity building and work in areas other than just building.

It is going to be a fantastic program.

I hope everybody gets behind it.

I want to commend the Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Fiona Nash, for running this program.

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