MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: Turnbull Government
Indeed, a Nat. I refer to Louis Dreyfus, a grain merchant and part-owner of Newcastle Agri Terminal or NAT, who supplied the wheat for the largest grain train ever in Australia. It is a 1.3-kilometre long grain train. Louis Dreyfus supplied that wheat, sourced from Moree and Narrabri, with the mother lode being consolidated at Narrabri before being hauled into port by Southern Shorthaul Rail’s locomotives. That came from the electorate of Parkes. I talk about Mr Dreyfus and I talk about NAT because that speaks to the integrity of our government. Our government is delivering integrity—integrity in infrastructure and integrity in what we do.
Labor is looking for anything at all to discuss, other than policies, because Labor has no policies. Labor came to the parliament and we heard the member for Maribyrnong, the Leader of the Opposition, talk about the year of big ideas. Those opposite have hardly had a single idea. In fact, it could be Labor's year of no ideas or at least Labor's year of no good ideas. The Liberal-Nationals government have many, many good ideas, including investing in rail infrastructure and investing in agriculture, such that we are getting a grain to port train to help Mr Dreyfus's company, NAT. What a good acronym! I could not think of one that would be any better myself. Labor is looking for a distraction, and any distraction will do. It is reverting to its usual negativity, which is its modus operandi—anything to distract from 'Mr 15 per cent' and anything to distract from their poor performance in the opinion polls.
I am not a big believer in opinion polls. I believe that there is one opinion poll that should be followed and that is the ballot box. When you have an opposition leader whose rating as preferred Prime Minister is down to 15 per cent, it does not bother me. As I said, I do not give too much countenance to opinion polls, but it is worrying those opposite big-time. It is really disturbing them. If anybody is being thought about over the summer period, it will be the member for Maribyrnong. He will be sweating nervously not just because of the Boxing Day test and how Australia will go; he will be very, very nervous about his position, because he has many members breathing down his neck.
The coalition government will not bogged down in Labor's rather petty political games, and it is all rather pathetic. We are delivering on all fronts: from the Federation, the taxation and the agricultural white papers to record investments—$50 billion—in infrastructure, including the sorts of rail infrastructure that I talked about earlier. We are delivering. We are building our nation. We are harnessing creativity. We are fostering innovation. We are investing in our future, in our children's future and in our grandchildren's future. We are facilitating economic transition. We are seizing the day. We hear the Prime Minister talk about the fact that there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian. I would add to that and say that there has never been a more exciting time to be a regional Australian. We are securing our country.
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr McCORMACK: I can hear a wall of noise from those opposite; they should know that we are securing our nation, because securing our borders is something that they failed dismally at. They failed absolutely. They were hopeless at securing our borders. There were 55,000 unauthorised arrivals. We only had four in detention centres when Kevin Rudd, the then member for Griffith, took over government. When we acquired government, it was 55,000. Labor put more money into detention centre beds than they put into hospital beds. Shame on them!
Moving on, we are looking after those in need; we truly are. We are building business confidence. When I go around my electorate and I talk in places such as Wagga Wagga, Temora, West Wyalong and Griffith, there is a sense of optimism in the air. There is a buoyancy about business people. People are willing to spend; they are willing to buy up for Christmas. That is good, and it is because of the policy positions that we have put into place. There is a good sense of confidence in the economy, and we need that. The retail sector absolutely needs that leading up to Christmas time.
We are much more positive than those opposite. We have a plan; there is no plan from those opposite. We are delivering; they never delivered. They had six years to do so, but they never ever delivered when they were in government, save for delivering a huge budget deficit of $124 billion, and the debt would have been $667 billion had it gone unchecked. I talked about our $50 billion investment in infrastructure—in roads, rail, bridges, airports and ports—which is so vitally needed. That infrastructure was neglected by those opposite, for those six sorry years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments.
On Monday, the second round of the National Stronger Regions Fund, a fund which is going to deliver $1 billion over five years, will be announced. I am looking forward to telling my colleagues and even those opposite about the wonderful programs and projects that are going to be delivered in their electorates. They are a good thing. The Stronger Communities Program will deliver $150,000 of funding per electorate—a program initiated from an idea by the member for Parkes, my good friend Mark Coulton. In my portfolio area, I am also responsible for the Community Development Grants Program. Again, this is a really good initiative which is getting on with the job of building those projects and funding those programs that are so vitally needed.
In the National Highway Upgrade Program, $228.7 million is going into vital infrastructure. We getting on with building the infrastructure for the beef roads in Northern Australia, which are really valuable roads, proving that we have integrity as a government and that we are doing the sorts of things that people expect us to do. The Black Spot program is another important roads program. As the minister responsible for road safety, I went to the global road safety conference in Brazil a couple of short weeks ago. Australia is a world leader in road safety, but we can always do more. The road toll is always too high, and one death on the road is one death too many—we all know that—but Australia is a world leader in road safety initiatives.
We have committed $300 million to the Bridges Renewal Program. People are very, very pleased in my electorate about it—and everything is about local. Everything that we talk about in the federal parliament is about local, because that is who we represent. We represent people who send us here to bring about a better life for their local electorates. I was very pleased to take part in a sod-turning exercise at Carrathool Bridge. I compliment Margaret Merrylees for her tireless advocacy for that. Just last week, I stood alongside the member for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, and the roads minister in New South Wales, Duncan Gay, to open the Gobarralong Bridge, which was flooded to the point of disrepair in March 2012. It was funded under the New South Wales coalition government, partnered with the federal coalition government. It is a good bridge and Gundagai shire is a good shire; they are good people and they needed that bridge.
We have the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and Inland Rail. We are talking about the Regional Aviation Access Program, with more than $80 million over four years. All these good programs talk to our integrity as a government. We also have the Mobile Black Spot Program. I heard the member for McEwen going crook in a 90-second statement the other day—it was almost comical, actually—talking about mobile black spots. I must correct the member for Bradfield, the minister, who got up and talked about Labor not actually delivering a dollar for mobile black spots during their turn at government. He was wrong in one sense: it is not that they did not deliver a dollar—it was not a single cent. You cannot come into this place and criticise us; we are actually getting on with the job of the Mobile Black Spots Program. We have committed $100 million; I wish it were more and I am certainly lobbying to that effect.
We are building the Western Sydney airport and developing Northern Australia. We have the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package, which is absolutely necessary. We are getting on with building and finishing the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. The Bruce Highway, in particular, is an absolutely vital transport linkage that was completely ignored by Labor in government. I look forward to announcing the National Stronger Regions Fund on Monday and, on the same day, because we are so full of good news, the member for Sturt is going to herald the National Innovation and Science Agenda at the CSIRO in Canberra. That is another example of us getting on with the job of governing Australia in a way that is full of integrity and full of merit.