Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (19:24): The 2020-21 federal budget is totally focused on getting Australians back to work. It will provide a huge boost right across the nation and certainly it will do so in the electorate of Grey. I’m very grateful for the investments that are being made there. It’s an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times.
The government is backing business to reignite the prospects of Australians. It is supporting businesses through the crisis with the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments to individuals who have found themselves out of work. We’ve continued to support them. We’re using taxpayer funds now as a lever to bring on investment and expansion from the private sector, and it’s working. We hear today that consumer confidence in the nation is back to the level it was in March. It has lifted 11 per cent since the budget. That’s a record. In fact, 2,000 jobs a day are being created around the nation, if you exclude Victoria. It is a net 800, but it’s 2,000 a day around the rest of the nation. We dearly hope that Victoria now will join that rush and reverse the situation that has been happening there.
I expect various groups in my electorate will show great interest in the 50 per cent subsidy for new apprentices. We will be looking for people with trade skills in the electorate of Grey. We already have a number of businesses that require them, so the sooner the better. There will be great interest in the $4 billion JobMaker program to support youth unemployment. For people under the age of 30 there’s a $200 a week subsidy and for those aged between 30 and 35 there will be $100 a week. I expect a number of jobs will be created in workplaces around both of those schemes.
With the instant asset write-off for business there will be some plant and machinery sold around the electorate. I understand that if you haven’t made a profit it’s not much of a hook, but plenty of places around have. Perhaps agricultural businesses are expecting a good year this year. They might well look at the opportunity to do that. Some of our manufacturing businesses will be doing the same.
The tax cuts dating back to 1 July will put more money into consumers’ pockets and increase confidence again. The carry-back loss mechanisms for business are very important, particularly for those that have been smashed in the last eight or nine months because of COVID. They have paid taxes previously and have all of a sudden found themselves in a net loss position. They will be able to claw back some of the taxes that they paid last year. All of those things will excite business. They will join the rush around Australia to grow the economy and pass the levels we were at before.
The budget is funding a lot of important local infrastructure. Certainly in Grey we have not been passed by. There are incentives for people to invest in people and equipment. In May last year during the election campaign I was given the honour and privilege of announcing a $64 million commitment to begin the dual-laneing—I think I just turned a noun into a verb—of the Augusta Highway north of Port Wakefield. It is 200 kilometres to Port Augusta. It won’t get all the way. There’s $64 million on the table and there will be another $16 million from the state. It is an $80 million project. I sat down with the department of transport and industry in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago to talk about the advance planning process that they are getting underway at the moment. Boy, we’re looking forward to that. It is a busy road that is becoming busier on the back of the resources growth in South Australia.
There’s a special one for Rowan Ramsey. I’m pretty about happy about this. I’ve been doing some blogging on this. There’s $100 million to seal the Strzelecki Track. This is a really big one. This is the route that goes from Lyndhurst, which is south of Marree, directly to Queensland. It goes through Innamincka up along the Cooper and to Burke’s dig tree. It’s sealed all the way from the South Australian border to Brisbane, but it’s 50 per cent further than it is to Adelaide.
South Australia has lost a lot of the supply contracts to the Cooper Basin because the 372 kilometres to the turn-off at Gidgealpa takes 16 hours in a road train. That gives you some idea. I was talking to a truckie who was working up there the other day doing some roadworks. He had five trucks there. He is one of the best operators in the state with really good gear. He said, ‘It’s smashing my truck to bits.’ That’s why it’s being avoided.
It will become one of the great tourist routes of Australia because you’ll be able to drive down from Queensland to Cooper Creek and go out to Coongie Lakes, or vice versa. If you come 400 kilometres further south, you have a choice at the T-intersection to go to Lake Eyre or to the Flinders Ranges. It is going to provide a lot of opportunities. There will be a lot of excitement. People don’t pull caravans down it now, unless they’re a licensed welder. So that will be happening.
Councils are getting a $13 million boost through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. I have 27 councils in Grey, plus a number of Indigenous councils. There’s $5 million as well for the department of transport. I’m just getting warmed up, but I know you’ll let me come back tomorrow, Mr Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O’Brien ): Order! It being 7.30 pm, the debate is interrupted. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed on a future day.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:30
Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (10:30): As I was saying before I was so politely interrupted, councils in my electorate are getting a $13 million boost from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program grant right across the electorate. And another $5 million has been allocated to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport in South Australia to complete roadworks in the same areas.
For any fabrication in Whyalla, a place that the Premier and I visited only a month or so ago will benefit from a $15 million grant, largely to install an onsite galvanising plant. At the moment if they press out metal and they want it galvanised, it has to go to Adelaide and be galvanised and then be brought back up to Whyalla again. Of course there is a lot of interest around Australia at the moment in building transmission towers for high-voltage lines. We’re planning to build a transmission line from South Australia through to New South Wales to hook us up to Snowy Hydro mark 2 or the wind energy that sits within the Grey electorate. In fact, almost 35 per cent of the wind energy in Australia is generated in the Grey electorate, so that is a big thing for Whyalla. It is actually telling us something about the government’s commitment to the steel industry in Australia. This is coupled with the announcements that have come from the minister for energy about the commitment for new energy schemes in Australia and the possibility developing green steel in Whyalla, where the owner of GFG Sanjeev Gupta has already expressed a great desire to move down that path. I think for Whyalla that’s a really big and important announcement that is looking to—there we go!
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Proceedings suspended from 10:32 to 10:43
Mr RAMSEY: Ten projects across Grey will receive more than $9.5 million under round 5 five of the Bridges Renewal Program and round 7 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. I’ve already been to visit those sites and talk to those people. There’s the Moonta historic mine. This is an absolute ripper! Moonta is one of the most historic mining towns in Australia. Its Cornish heritage really has to be seen to be believed. It’s listed as a National Heritage site. The whole town will receive $4.9 million as part of the federal government’s $61 million budget for environmental restoration and recovery through the $1 billion COVID relief fund. The same fund is providing almost $300,000 for a very similar community in Burra, a historic mining town which is also listed as a National Heritage site, to undertake repair work around the mining site—in fact, to the offices at Burra that sit near the great pit, which is now full of water. Then there are the Ediacara fossils at Nilpena, which is a World Heritage site. This is outstanding stuff in the Flinders Ranges. The area in the Flinders Ranges with the earliest signs of life on the planet will receive $490,000. They are really good wins for the electorate of Grey.
A number of other projects in the electorate are already underway, and some of them are very large infrastructure programs. I’m pleased to announce that work has commenced on the second Joy Baluch bridge at Port Augusta. Port Augusta is the crossroads of the nation. If you go east to west, you go through Port Augusta and you go over the bridge. If you go north to south, you go over the Joy Baluch bridge. It’s become congested. The alternative is a trackway to the north called Yorkeys Crossing. If it’s wet, that’s out as well. At different times we’ve had accidents on the bridge where East Port Augusta is cut off from West Port Augusta, and there are no emergency services in West Port Augusta. It’s a very big project—a $200 million project—with $160 million coming from the federal government.
Down at Port Wakefield, we’re solving a perennial problem and one that’s sat there for many decades. We’re having an overpass intersection to the north of the town and dual lanes right through the town. Work is continuing on the ARTC, the Australian Rail Track Corporation, traffic management system. That’s a $50 million program. There’s $100 million for works on freight corridors west of Port Augusta, with $25 million of that being chiselled off for works to deal with the closure of the railway on Eyre Peninsula. Eyre Peninsula is where I live. That work is very important to the growers and the community of Eyre Peninsula. There’s also $50 million for the Barrier Highway, $42 million for the Horrocks Highway—all with a 20 per cent top-up from the state. There’s a lot of work happening in the Grey electorate as a result of the investment decisions of this federal government.
The support that the electorate has received through the Regional Airline Network Support package has put flights back into Coober Pedy, Ceduna and Whyalla. It was very important. I think there are also subsidised flights going into Port Lincoln. Those communities would have been completely cut off. It wasn’t a regular service. It was making sure there were two services a week, but it did keep that population in touch. There was also a big increase over this period of time in Roads to Recovery payments. There was an increase of $12 million to the 29 councils across Grey.
In the last two years, I have opened two new headspace units in the electorate of Grey. We now have four. I need one more. I still need another one for Port Pirie. We’re working our way down the list. I’m extremely grateful for the funding and so are the communities where those headspace units sit.
There’s $6½ million for work shutting down leaking bores in the Great Artesian Basin. Most of this work is not going to be in South Australia, because the work has already been done there. It’s largely going to be done in South West Queensland, but it’s the same basin, so keeping the pressures up in that basin is very important to South Australia. There’s $45 million for the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme. You might wonder why the member for Grey would be talking about Adelaide, but my electorate now runs within 32 kilometres of the CBD. In the last redistribution I picked up a lot of irrigated horticultural country on the Adelaide Plains, and this is a very important project.
There’s a new allocation of $200 million for the BBRF. This has been a remarkable program in Grey across the years. In the last round, the Remarkable Southern Flinders received a $5 million grant for the development of tourist facilities and biking trails in the Southern Flinders Ranges. There’s $6.6 million for the Silver to Sea Way, which is keeping a hold of the historical landmarks that sit between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. Of course, Broken Hill is where BHP was formed—Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is what it stands for. The smelters in Port Pirie were built to deal with that first mining venture of BHP. It’s a very important part of Australia’s history.
There’s $3 million for the Cowell foreshore development. We’ve had great investment in remote airstrips and in regional airports. The Drought Communities Program has run across 20 councils in Grey, and there’s been some fantastic work done. I go into communities where they’ve been able to upgrade facilities, which they haven’t been able to afford to do for a long time. I often tell the story about the young sparky I was talking to, who had the job of rewiring the town’s showgrounds. He said, ‘Without these grants I would have had to let my two men go, and I don’t know whether or not I would have been able to survive.’ He’s providing that town with an ongoing service, which is exactly what the Drought Communities Program is about. In fact, I’m very pleased to be part of a government that has recognised that drought does not affect just farmers, it affects whole communities. If farmers have no money then they stop spending, and then the industries that service them dry up as well. There has been an increase of FAGs funding for councils. I can safely say that never before have we had this level of federal investment in a large regional seat like Grey, and very I’m pleased to be the member at the time when this great support is coming from the federal government.