WE’RE DOING WHAT IT TAKES TO BUILD OUR FUTURE

Driving long distances to family and friends over Christmas or to the coast for your January holiday this year, chances are you got stuck in roadworks somewhere.

Although frustrating at times, roadworks are actually a good thing. It means work is happening. It means the road is becoming safer.

And right across the nation, that’s what the Liberal and Nationals Government is doing. In places big and small our investment in infrastructure is making a real and noticeable impact on people’s lives and you only have to look out your car window to see.

Whether it’s getting to work faster thanks to more lanes and bypassing traffic lights on new motorways in the city such as NorthConnex or WestConnex or replacing wooden bridges, some up to 100-years-old, so trucks can cross safely in tiny communities such as Crossmaglen near Coffs Harbour, we are investing to make things easier for Australian households, families and businesses.

In the past few weeks, I have been to communities around the country seeing firsthand the changes our investment in critical infrastructure is already making for regional families and small businesses.

Critical infrastructure, such as a four-lane divided Pacific Highway on the New South Wales North Coast, which will save drivers two and a half hours between Hexham and the Queensland border, once it’s completed.

Just before Christmas I saw the last girder installed on one of the project’s biggest bridges – at Broadwater – which had 3,000 jobs on the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the highway construction alone.

It’s just another piece of the puzzle, which is finally making the Pacific Highway the safe and productive highway the north coast needs and deserves.

So too the Inland Rail – that vital corridor of commerce which I turned the first sod for at Parkes last month – will save around $10 per tonne in freight costs for those who use it.

This is a project which has been decades in the planning, talked about for generations. And this Liberal and Nationals Government is getting on with it.

But it’s not just roads and rail. We are also investing in the social infrastructure to help look after country kids when they need it the most.

I joined NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to open the brand new Centre for Country Kids at Royal Far West at Manly. This new centre means sick country kids and their families will have the medical and schooling support they need, no matter how remote their home is.

And we want to invest in capturing water and giving Australian agriculture the boost it deserves. That means building dams.

Just recently, I put another $500 million on the table to work with the states and territories to build more dams and harness the power of water.

The Liberal and Nationals Government investment under the National Water Infrastructure Fund now totals more than $1.3 billion to help states and territories and their project partners deliver major water infrastructure projects that will increase water reliability and security for farmers, businesses and communities in regional Australia.

These investments change lives. They make things easier for families, for businesses and for the community. And they are only possible thanks to a strong economy.

A strong economy which we choose to reinvest in making country roads safer. We choose to invest in looking after those who need it the most and we choose to invest in helping grow the economy into the future. We choose to invest in income and small business tax cuts to help with families’ cost of living.

But we cannot take these things for granted.

We have seen before what life is like for the regions under Labor. It’s all lip-service, not extra lanes on highways. Labor uses regional communities and our infrastructure as bargaining chips in its turf war with the Greens in inner city seats. Labor has done it before and will do it again.

Labor will hike taxes and will not support small business – it’s the simple blue-print it has have used before and will use again.

Only the Liberal and Nationals Government – with country voices at the Cabinet table – putting regional Australia at the forefront. Only we focus on making country roads are safer, cutting taxes for small businesses and families and building the infrastructure the regions deserve.

That’s what we stand for. And it’s what we are investing in to help grow the regions and the economy into the future.

And that will never change.

Michael McCormack is Acting Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals.

Published in The Daily Telegraph, 17 January 2019.

Ends.

Hannah Maguire