We have a record investment in infrastructure rolling out around our country right now—about $100 billion over the next 10 years. Never before has an Australian government funded more infrastructure at one point in time: 130 major projects are funded and under construction at the moment. They are supporting 85,000 jobs around Australia. That's enough jobs to fill up ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Enough jobs to fill up a football stadium are being created by this government's infrastructure package.
Senator McDONALD (Queensland) (14:55):
My question is to the Minister representing the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Senator Canavan. Can the minister update the Senate on the Liberal-National government's record investments in infrastructure and how those investments will better connect our cities and regions and build a stronger economy?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (14:55):
I thank Senator McDonald for her question. I know how passionate she is about building better infrastructure in Queensland, her home state, in particular, but right across the country. That's exactly what the government is getting on with doing. We have a record investment in infrastructure rolling out around our country right now—about $100 billion over the next 10 years. Never before has an Australian government funded more infrastructure at one point in time: 130 major projects are funded and under construction at the moment. They are supporting 85,000 jobs around Australia. That's enough jobs to fill up ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Enough jobs to fill up a football stadium are being created by this government's infrastructure package.
In the short space of time of this question I don't have time to go through all those 130 projects, of course, but I will just quickly go around the country to give a flavour. For example, in Victoria, in Senator Henderson's area, we have $2 billion being invested in fast rail from Melbourne to Geelong—a project she has fought for, I know, for a long time. We have $4 billion going to the Urban Congestion Fund, helping to cut travel times in our major cities around the country. There is $4½ billion being invested in the Roads of Strategic Importance program. That program is all about increasing productivity in our mining, agriculture and tourism sectors to create more jobs, not just through construction. That's why we have upgrades like Tennant Creek to Townsville, which will help unlock that mineral corridor there, and the mango roads in the Northern Territory. We're just going into mango season. You all know that we'll have better mangoes coming soon, because, on smoother roads just near Darwin, where they are grown, there will be less bruising of the mangoes. Karratha to Mount Tom Price will help open up whole new mining opportunities—particularly in rare earths, lithium and mineral sands—that exist in Western Australia. There is a lot more that I'm not going to have time to get through, but it's great to have such good news for Australians and to get them into a job.
Senator McDonald, a supplementary question?
Senator McDONALD (Queensland) (14:57):
Can the minister outline the benefits of bringing forward funding for major projects across the nation?
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (14:57):
He's on thin ice, I think. I can outline some further exciting announcements in regard to infrastructure. Last week the Deputy Prime Minister and minister for infrastructure, Mr Michael McCormack, announced we would bring forward some further investments from that record investment we're already doing. Just under $4 billion of investments will be brought forward right across the country. This will bring those jobs forward. Some of those 85,000 jobs will be brought forward to help our economy and get people moving. It will be projects like the Newell Highway in New South Wales. Two hundred million dollars will be brought forward there, particularly to help drought affected areas. That area of the country is one of the worst affected by droughts. That project being brought forward will create jobs in an area of the country doing it really tough at the moment. All of these projects will help support our economy and then build a better economy for the long term, because they will increase productivity, cut travel times and allow more jobs to be built outside the infrastructure space.
Senator McDonald, a final supplementary question?
Senator McDONALD (Queensland) (14:58):
How will these investments deliver stability and certainty in my home state of Queensland?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (14:59):
There's a lot going on in Queensland under our record investment program, but, in particular, 20 projects will have funding brought forward under the announcements last week. They include upgrades: the M1, south of Brisbane; the Bruce Highway, which runs all the way up to Cairns; the Warrego and Cunningham highways, which go out west; and the North Coast rail line as well.
We've also, very excitingly, finally had the Queensland government agree on the Inland Rail investment package. That unlocks $9 billion of funding right across the country to build our first proper inland rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane. That project is going to create 7,000 jobs alone—another small football stadium of jobs created just on that program. It's very, very exciting.
One of the programs being brought forward is in my part of the world and in Senator McDonald's part of the world, in Central Queensland, where we'll upgrade the Rocky ring-road, which will help more than 70,000 vehicles a day cut travel times and go through fewer traffic lights. It's very exciting for our country.