REGIONS TO BENEFIT FROM INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
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 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 an impact on people's lives.
Whether it's investing $10 billion in making the Bruce Highway safer, or smaller, yet no less important projects such as our investment of $2.58 million to seal parts of the Cloncurry-Dajarra Rd in Queensland's northwest, we are helping Queenslanders get home sooner and safer to their families.
For too long, country communities along the Bruce Highway waited for a government to fund the works to make it the safe, corridor of commerce Queensland needs and deserves.
Investments such as $800 million for the Gympie Bypass (Cooroy to Curra) – something the local community has fought for over many years – will make it a reality.
So too, the once-in-a-generation investment in the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing is nearing completion and the opportunities for businesses, farmers and people in the Garden City continue to grow.
But making life easier for Queenslanders and their families does not stop there.
We want to invest in capturing water and giving Australian agriculture the boost it deserves. That means building dams.
Just recently, I went to Emerald and Gladstone to put another $500 million on the table to work with the states and territories to build more dams and harness the power of water.
This is on top of the funds we are investing to build the $176 million Rookwood Weir, $28 million Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme, and $11.8 million Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme in northern Queensland.
The Liberal and Nationals' Federal Government investment under the National Water Infrastructure Fund now totals more than $1.3 billion to help deliver major water infrastructure projects in regional Australia.
We are also investing in the social infrastructure around the state, including in central Queensland to help country kids train the next generation of sporting champions.
Sport in Mackay – famously home to Olympic gold-medallist Cathy Freeman – is set for a big win thanks to a new sporting precinct at Central Queensland University's Mackay campus, complete with an Olympic pool and an athletics track.
I visited the new centre just before Christmas and saw how it will feature facilities such as a synthetic running track, long jump pits, shot put circles, javelin runways; as well as multi-use playing fields, a clubhouse and canteen.
Put simply, something which used to be quarantined for the city is now a reality in country Queensland.
These investments change lives and they are possible thanks to a strong economy.
But we cannot take these things for granted. We have seen what life was like for the regions under Labor.
Only the Liberal and Nationals' Federal Government – with country voices at the Cabinet table – will put regional Australia at the forefront.
Only we focus on making sure country roads are safer, cutting taxes for small businesses and families, and building the infrastructure the regions deserve.
And that will never change.
Michael McCormack is Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals.
Published in the Courier Mail, 23 January 2019.