Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (17:43): The Australian government is committed to investing an unprecedented $75 billion in transport infrastructure across Australia over the next 10 years. It’s because we know that infrastructure matters and, as a key ingredient of our modern life, it affects the competitiveness of every business in Australia. It gets food to our shops, power to our homes and workers to their jobs and allows us to export wealth and natural resources to our foreign markets. When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in growth, we invest in jobs and we invest in tomorrow, which is why the government is investing $75 billion in transport infrastructure, as I said.
That’s why I totally reject the amendment put forward by the member for Grayndler. I know he knows much better, but the underhand political shot is in the DNA of the Labor Party. Selective quoting and misrepresenting of budget figures is stock in hand, and so it is here. The member for Grayndler-and the member for Herbert just backed it up-well knows that the federal government has a wide range of investment models, including direct grants, which the member for Grayndler quotes while disingenuously ignoring huge equity investments like the NBN, Snowy Hydro 2.0, Badgerys Creek or the rerailing of the Adelaide to Tarcoola railway line in my own electorate. He ignores government loans which provide the bankability for higher risk programs and, importantly, provide the multiplier effect. The half-truth is anything but the truth. An intentional half-truth is a lie. That is the premise of the amendment put forward by the member for Grayndler, and I reject it.
In my electorate, the advent of the coalition government in Canberra and, more latterly, the Liberal government in South Australia has breathed new life into infrastructure. I’m particularly pleased to have been able to deliver a suite of critical improvements to surface transportation under the new investment plan. Two weeks ago I was joined by the Deputy Prime Minister and minister for infrastructure, Michael McCormack, the state minister for infrastructure, Stephan Knoll, and the state member for Narungga, Fraser Ellis, to announce a long overdue overpass just north of Port Wakefield. It will extend from the dual carriageway, which is currently two kilometres to the south, through the town, and a little over a kilometre to the north. It will have $72 million from the Commonwealth and $18 million from the state in an 80-20 split.
The overpass will provide a proper long-term solution to the congestion, particularly at holiday times, at the junction of the Copper Coast Highway, commonly referred to as ‘crash corner’. Every parent will breathe a sigh of relief as they send their kids off back to Adelaide at the end of the long holidays and avoid the two hours of backed-up traffic around Port Wakefield. It’s a vital investment to improve flow and safety of tourist traffic and the ever-increasing freight load-to the north, all the way to Darwin and, to the west, all the way to Perth.
Another example of the government’s commitment to infrastructure improvements in the electorate of Grey is the duplication of the Joy Baluch AM bridge in Port Augusta. The 50-year-old bridge is a link in the national land transport network and the national tourist routes and it binds the city of Port Augusta together. But it provides only one lane in each direction and, since the closure of the historic Great Western Bridge to foot traffic in March last year, carries all the foot traffic on a narrow, unprotected walkway within centimetres of trucks weighing more than 100 tonnes. Sometimes traffic flows are interrupted by accidents, and the alternative route, more than 35 kilometres around, is not an all-weather route. Emergency services in Port Augusta are all based on the east side, which means that the west side is totally exposed.
I personally brought Ministers Chester, Frydenberg, Tehan and McCormack to see the bridge firsthand and illustrate the urgency of its duplication. That is why I’m so pleased that the government has recognised the urgency of this project and will push forward its $160 million investment in this long wanted and waited-for project. Consequently, the duplication of the bridge is expected to be completed in 2021.
Port Augusta is the crossroads of the nation. Similarly to Port Wakefield, everything travelling north, east, south and west travels over that bridge at Port Augusta, including the Sydney traffic. Both of these projects, Port Wakefield and Port Augusta, are incredibly important pieces of infrastructure. Sadly, neither was possible until we had a coalition government in Canberra and a Liberal government in South Australia. It is this side of politics, despite all the huffing and puffing from the other side of the chamber, that actually understands the true potential of rural and regional Australia and is willing to invest in it and back it to the hilt.