It is my great pleasure to rise to celebrate the Turnbull government’s $100 million investment in the Geelong rail duplication project, as announced in our federal budget. This is a fantastic investment for our region. It is a project for which I have fought very hard for the last two years, and I am absolutely delighted that the Commonwealth is stepping up and delivering on a project that will deliver faster and reliable trains from Colac, Warrnambool and Geelong through to Melbourne. Of course, we do need to see a budgeted commitment placed in the Victorian budget so that we can ensure that this project is delivered. We would also like to see the Victorian government commit to the East West Link, because, as we who live in Western Melbourne and Geelong all know, it is a terrible situation that we find ourselves in – $1.24 billion of taxpayers’ money wasted as a result of the cancellation of that project, and absolute congestion, which can be fixed only by a proper western road link.
The commitment to the rail project puts us in the box seat to secure a city deal for our region. I am very proud that last Friday I convened a workshop with the G21 organisation, local mayors, the Committee for Geelong, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and the parliamentary secretary to the Victorian Treasurer, Daniel Mulino. Together, we worked on a blueprint for a city deal. There was much consensus in the room and I think the meeting was a great success. There is, of course, a lot more work to be done, but I am delighted that Angus Taylor, the member for Hume, as the city’s minister, joined us about six weeks ago to start that process.
City deals are absolutely vital to bringing the Australian government, state governments and local governments together to form a plan and work together on a joint investment. We are working very hard for our region. If we can secure a city deal this, I believe, will help drive funding commitments for major infrastructure projects, such as a convention centre in Geelong and the final stage of Simonds Stadium. I believe it is critically important that the city deal, if we can secure one, includes an independent development corporation that is required to fast-track and leverage private sector development.
In its budget, the Turnbull government very proudly has allocated $472 million in regional infrastructure funding, including a second round of the Building Better Regions Fund, and we will be working very hard to secure some of that funding. So I call on Daniel Andrews to prioritise the Geelong and Great Ocean Road region as the first regional city deal. I too am working very hard for a city deal for our region.
11 May 2017