05 February 2018

Speech: City Deal for the Geelong Region

It’s my great pleasure to rise on this motion to celebrate the wonderful policy announcements that have been made by the Turnbull government, including by the Prime Minister two weeks ago when we announced a City Deal for the Geelong region, including our magnificent Great Ocean Road. We heard from the member for Shortland another reason to not vote for Labor at the next election: the Labor Party does not agree with City Deals. Labor governments around the nation have warmly embraced this model, which brings together the federal government, the state government and local governments to drive investment and confidence, particularly in infrastructure spending.

It was certainly a great day when we announced our City Deal. There is great excitement from all of the stakeholders—from the local councils, the Committee for Geelong, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, the chambers of commerce of Apollo Bay and Colac, and the many other stakeholders, including G21. Our City Deal will build on the very significant investment that we have already made in very large, major infrastructure projects across our region: half a billion dollars or so in major rail upgrades, the duplication of the Princess Highway and the upgrade of the Great Ocean Road—a project that the previous Labor government did not support.

If I take onboard the member for Shortland’s rhetoric in relation to infrastructure spending, look at the announce of our government last year on the regional rail upgrade. The Commonwealth, the Turnbull government, announced $1.42 billion in regional upgrades, including $225 million—a quarter of a billion dollars—in the Corangamite electorate. Guess what the state Labor’s contribution was to that? A paltry $150 million. Over the weekend I called on the Daniel Andrews government to match our contribution. We have to drive major infrastructure development and investment into Victoria. One of the biggest reasons it is not happening as it should is that the projects aren’t there. We have been waiting two years for a business plan for a regional rail upgrade, the duplication of the rail between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds. We are seeing Daniel Andrews put Victorians on the slow train over that project.

If you consider the Victorian government’s and past federal Labor’s investment in the Regional Rail Link, it has become an absolute disaster—$4 billion in the Regional Rail Link and it is standing room only. Geelong commuters have been put last on that project. We all know about the abhorrent decision to cancel the East West Link, a project previously supported by the likes of the Leader of the Opposition. Now Daniel Andrews has spent $1.2 billion to cancel that project, which is an absolute disgrace.

We are very proud of our City Deal for Geelong, which will also embrace the Great Ocean Road economy, which is such an important part of our region. It builds on the very significant investments we’ve made in rail but also in state roads. Again, we had to drive and bring the state Labor government to the table on state road investment. There was $10 million in total for the Hamilton Highway; $440 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project; $600,000 for the Midland Highway; $3.5 million for the Port of Geelong Access Improvement Package; $600,000 for Grubb Road, the planning for the duplication of Grubb Road in Ocean Grove; and a total of $363 million to duplicate the Princes Highway between Winchelsea and Colac, along with the $100 million in total for the Great Ocean Road upgrade. So we are incredibly proud of the infrastructure investments in our region.

Our City Deal is a wonderful policy brought forward by this government. We’ve now heard that Labor is condemning this policy, which is very regrettable. It’s another indication of the Labor Party’s wild swing to the Left. I expect also that we’ll see a repeat of the performance we saw in 2008, when the Labor Party rejected a deal between Avalon Airport and AirAsia X to allow AirAsia X to fly into Avalon. It was with great pride, yesterday, that Avalon Airport announced it will become an international airport—with great support from our government. It was a very proud day for all Corangamite residents and residents in the Geelong region.