A Labor motion to form a stacked Select Committee to pick apart the Government’s development agenda for Northern Australia has been condemned by Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan.
Minister Canavan said Senator Murray Watt’s proposal to create a majority Labor-Greens committee proved neither party had learned lessons from the Federal election.
“The Labor-Greens alliance has never outlined a vision to match that already being delivered by the Government. Instead, they are pursuing a wrecking agenda,” Minister Canavan said.
“This motion comes from a Senator who was never a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia, never attended a hearing of that committee and is, at best, a FIFO Senator for anywhere outside south-east Queensland.
“The Labor-Greens alliance had a disastrous election campaign. Former Greens leader Bob Brown led a convoy of malcontents to Central Queensland to tell locals how to live their lives – which clearly backfired - and Labor’s only plan for Northern Australia involved raiding the NAIF to fund pet projects.
“Distraction and destruction is the sole motivation for today’s motion.”
Minister Canavan said the Government had successfully delivered 41 of the 51 measures contained in the 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
“Alongside that, via the NAIF, the Liberal Nationals Government has invested $1.3 billion in 10 projects across north Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia to date,” he said.
“Those projects have an estimated total capital value of $2.8 billion, are forecast to generate around a further $2.3 billion in public benefit for Northern Australia and create more than 2,500 jobs.
“Drawdowns have started for three of those NAIF projects, and conditional approval has been given for another two.
“Since the change to the NAIF investment mandate in May last year, NAIF has averaged about one funding decision per month over the last 12 months, and Senator Watt should note that a third of those decisions have been for Queensland projects.”
Alongside NAIF funding, the Government will invest almost $2.8 billion in other important, job-creating infrastructure in Northern Australia including $1.75 billion for Roads of Strategic Importance, $700 million under the Northern Australia Roads Program and $300 million to continue work on the Outback Way.