Federation Chamber: CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS: Budget

It is a great morning in Canberra and it is certainly a great morning in the Riverina following last night's federal budget. The Riverina's key role in the plan for inland rail and Roads to Recovery funding has featured highly, prominently, in last night's federal budget. The budget is a plan to back hardworking people and small businesses right throughout the Riverina and the Central West regions of New South Wales wanting to make most of Australia's natural advantages in the future. The Riverina and Central West's rich agricultural industries are set to benefit enormously from the government's recently negotiated trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea. Part of delivering the jobs and growth of these new markets and opportunities is ensuring that we can get that product to market as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The Australian Rail Track Corporation plan for a Brisbane to Melbourne freight route has the Riverina and Central West as its most critical artery in New South Wales. Last night's budget delivers on the key role our region will play in getting high-quality, local produce to market by investing an additional $593.7 million to acquire land and for preconstruction activities. Now, that commits the government and that commits the nation to this vital rail corridor, to this vital transport link.              

Whilst the plan for inland rail delivers a wholesale freight route along the eastern seaboard, last night's budget also helps deliver the critical final mile, which is very vital, within regional communities with timely boosts to the nation's road budget. I know how happy local governments were when we increased the Roads to Recovery funding. Those black spot areas are fixed up under the coalition government's commitment to roads funding, commitment to that last vital mile. We have invested an additional $400 million nationwide, and the Riverina and Central West will benefit from that, in the successful Roads to Recovery program to ensure that trucks and other industry can load, cart and freight locally. Roads to Recovery empowers local councils to make decisions on behalf of local people where they know, because they are best placed to do it, where these roads are required and where these upgrades are needed.              

Many Riverina people own or work in a small and medium business and they will see the benefits of a 2.5 per cent tax cut delivering yet another injection into the engine room of regional communities. I am so pleased, as the Assistant Minister for Defence, that the $960 million—that is right, nearly $1 billion—to help RAAF Wagga Wagga and Kapooka Army base is going forward. It is going to create jobs, it is going to create enterprise and it is going to put more uniformed personnel in my city of Wagga Wagga.              

It is a great budget.

Cristy Houghton