TRANSCRIPT: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee, Doorstop, Oberon 9 May 2019
Today we're also announcing a campaign election commitment of $1.5 million for the Oberon to Tarana Heritage Railway. Now this group has been operating up in Oberon for a number of years. They've got a wonderful facility there. They've even got a great diesel locomotive, but the problem is they haven't got any track to run the trains on, and the heritage railway is doing a huge amount of work up there and they get a lot of tourists up to Oberon every single year. Many of them come to see the heritage railway, but we need to get some tracks to run the trains on. And so this funding will be used to complete stage one of that project, which is 5.6 kilometres of new rail lines. So the folks at the heritage railway are very excited about this because they've been trying to get some funding for this for many years. And now through this election commitment, if the government is returned, they will be able to complete stage one.
So it's a wonderful investment in tourism for the Oberon area. But there's also an investment in our heritage and our past because what they're doing is restoring old carriages that were very much a part of the lifeblood of the region in New South Wales in years gone by, and countless hours of work have gone into the Oberon to Tarana Heritage Railway to bring the station up to speed. And they've received government grants to help them with that. But I think with this investment of $1.5 million, it will take the Oberon to Tarana Heritage Railway into a whole new era, and so I'm very, very excited about this funding.
It's an election commitment?
It's an election commitment, so if the government is returned, the money will be delivered to the Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway. And when we gave them this news, they were absolutely over the moon because it's like a dream come true. They've got the trains up there, they've got the carriages, they've got the knowhow and the ability to use them. They just haven't got any track. So a little bit of a problem when you're running a heritage railway.
So they'll be able to get the diesel loco out of the shed now and onto the track if the government is returned through stage one, which will be 5.6 kilometres of railway. Now, rail tourism is absolutely huge right across Australia and the folks up there believe that this will lead to an even bigger influx of tourism to the Oberon area. It's already a tourist mecca up there. You've got Jenolan Caves nearby, you've got fishing, got a wonderful golf course up there, so you've got a lot of attractions in the Oberon area, beautiful natural scenery. But this will just be another feather in the cap of the Oberon area. So I'm very excited about the money.
46% of international tourists to Australia choose a regional destination. 46% of people who come from overseas who visit Australia go to a regional location, and that doesn't include the Gold Coast. And we want to increase that number. Andrew Gee with this commitment today is committing to making sure that Oberon gets a slice of that tourism action. Make sure that Oberon gets an even greater part of the tourism dollar. He wants to make sure that whether it's the rail line, whether it's that historic site, which is so well helped by volunteers, that site which is so well benefited by so many hardworking volunteers in Oberon, he wants to get it up and running, he wants to get it back on track. This $1.5 million election commitment today does just that. Andrew Gee is in there fighting hard, whether it's for jobs, tourism jobs, or whatever the case might be.
He wants to boost the number of jobs right throughout the central west. Indeed, especially with this announcement in Oberon, this particular commitment by the Federal Government will do just that. We want to boost tourism numbers because we know that tourists brings dollars and when they leave an area after they've visited, whether it's a historic railway site, whether it's a museum, whether it's one of the festivals or attractions. They go and tell others. Go to Oberon, go to the central Western New South Wales, great place to visit, friendly people, and there's so much to see and do.
Michael, our Tamworth team just wants to know when and if you might be visiting in New England region, and why your last visit there was cancelled?
No, my last visit was cancelled because something else came up. It was the drought announcement with the Prime Minister between Dubbo and Gilgandra. Barnaby is doing very well. We saw him in the debate the other day, making sure that the people of New England know that he's the candidate of choice. Making sure that he can continue to do the fine representation he's done for New England. He knows how to win the election. He knows how to serve and deliver local people with the infrastructure, with the jobs that they need and want, and he'll go on doing that after the election.