Jun 6, 2013

Consideration in Detail – Fixing the Bruce Highway

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (10:23):  In terms of the Bruce Highway I really want to pay tribute to the member for Capricornia over her time representing that important part of Queensland for the work that she has done. There is no greater tribute to her work and her legacy as the member, given that she has announced her retirement at the next election, than the work that has happened around the southern approaches to Rockhampton. In this budget we have brought forward funding to make sure that this southern approach can be fixed. We brought it forward to the next financial year.

This goes on top of the other work that is occurring.

Already right now under construction are: the Calliope Crossroads; the Bruce and Capricorn highways; the Yeppen roundabout; the southern approach to Mackay; the Burdekin River bridge; flattening and straightening the Bruce Highway over Cardwell Range; projects associated with the Burdekin Road safety audit; the southern approach to Cairns—where I will also be next week—straightening and widening the highway from Cabbage Tree Creek to Carman Road and across Back Creek Range; straightening the highway just south of Gin Gin; and straightening and raising the Bruce Highway between Sandy Corner and Collinson’s Lagoon.

We will shortly begin the upgrade of the Pumicestone Road interchange, part of a $195-million contribution from the federal government. Over the next year, in 2013-14, we will have the Cooroy to Curra section A construction commencing with the sod turned next week; the duplication of the highway just south of Townsville between Vantassel Street and Cluden; the construction of the new interchange and replacing the existing intersections between Roy’s Road and Bells Creek Road, part of a $195-million contribution; and construction of the final section of the Townsville Ring Road between Shaw Road and Mt Low.

These are the sorts of projects that have led the LNP member for Herbert to say:

I will give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce highway than we did before.

That is what local members who are rational say about our contribution to the Bruce Highway. There has been a total funding commitment of $5.7 billion since we came to office compared with the former government’s $1.3 billion. Even those arithmetically challenged should recognise 5.7 is a lot more than 1.3. It is not just a figure though because what that means is that there are real jobs as a result of the contributions that have been made.

It compares favourably across the board because we heard before the shadow minister dismiss the $24-billion figure that we have announced already for Nation Building 2. I have no doubt there is more to come in future budgets as state governments and territory governments submit properly funded projects. He said that is a terrible figure. The former government’s big trumpet under AusLink was $11.4 billion. The shadow minister says it was more than that. Maybe they got it wrong because they are not real good with numbers. But $11.4 billion was the headline in their press release for Australia’s roads and railways. That was their contribution. Twenty-four is more than 11 and—that is moving forward as we receive further projects.

What we know is that investment in infrastructure produces a return in productivity, a return that leads to higher growth, a return that leads therefore to higher revenues and a return that produces outcomes in economic growth and jobs. It is the driver of our national economy. We can invest in two things: physical capital and human capital. That is why we regard infrastructure and skills of the two parts—investing in people through education and training, and investing in nation-building infrastructure. (Time expired)