JOEL FITZGIBBON (Member for Hunter) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. I ask him: now that the government has secured passage of its mining tax, what will the revenue mean for economic infrastructure in mining and regional communities, including of course the Hunter region, and how has the government addressed the challenges involved in delivering this infrastructure funding?
ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the member for Hunter for his question and acknowledge that he moved a motion in the House just yesterday recognising the importance of the MRRT, because he understands the need to provide critical infrastructure in capacity constrained mining regions, including in the Hunter Valley of NSW. That is exactly what the Regional Infrastructure Fund under the MRRT is about: giving back to the communities that are impacted by the consequences that have occurred as a result of the mining boom.
When you travel to many of the mining communities you are struck by the fact that whilst there is enormous wealth being generated, there are also massive shortages of critical infrastructure, a lack of planning, a lack of foresight and pressure on those communities.
It is not just me who says that, because another member of this place said this:
“I share the disappointment about how few mining companies contribute to the areas they invade and how little state governments return of the massive royalty incomes they receive to the communities.”
That was the Leader of the National Party [Warren Truss] speaking about the invasion of these companies into regional communities. But, of course, he is opposing infrastructure development in these communities.
That is what they did when they (Liberal and National MPs) said ‘NO’ to the MRRT in this place and in the other place (Senate) last night. They said:
…‘NO’ to the Scone level crossing study in the Member for Hunter’s electorate;
…’NO’ to the Gladstone Port Access Road, $50 million, in the electorate of Flynn;
…’NO’ to the Blacksoil Interchange project, $54 million, in the electorate of Blair;
…’NO’ to the Townsville Ring Road project, $160 million, in Herbert;
…’NO’ to the Peak Downs Highway project, $120 million, in Capricornia;
…’NO’ to the upgrade of the intersection of the Bruce and Capricornia highways, another $40 million; and
…’NO’ to the Mackay Ring Road Study.
Those opposite just say “NO, NO, NO”, including to regional infrastructure in their own communities.
He (George Christensen, Dawson MP) should be embarrassed by opposing this infrastructure in his own electorate.
But it is not just here. Campbell Newman has been on the Queensland campaign trail promising funds from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax for projects such as the Toowoomba Bypass.
It is absurd. You cannot have the benefits without having the revenue stream, and that is what this Government understands. That is why we have put in place a fair system to spread the benefits of the mining boom to the many – not just a few Liberal and National Party mates.