In Parliament this week, I celebrated the delivery of more than $1.1 billion of infrastructure funding for our region.

The funding – $292 million for the Barwon Heads Rd duplication, $208 million for the Warrnambool line upgrade, $30 million for the Western Rail plan and the bringing into the forward estimates $605 million for stages 2 and 3 of the Geelong rail duplication project – comprises one of the biggest allocations of infrastructure funding into the Budget forwards (20-21 to 24-25) ever delivered for our region.

With 80 per cent of funding delivered by the Morrison Government for these projects, it is imperative that the Victorian Labor Government steps up and provides the balance of funding required.  That means Labor must immediately deliver $73 million for the Barwon Heads Rd, $52 million for the Warrnambool line upgrade and $143 million for the Geelong rail duplication.

Labor must deliver this funding so that these projects, vital for jobs and our economic recovery, can start straight away.

In my speech, I referred to Labor’s failure to deliver on its 2018 election commitment to fully fund the Barwon Heads Rd, noting that no Commonwealth funding was sought at the time.  This is the road that Labor forgot.  Only some $400,000 has been delivered for planning money and not a cent for construction.  The Morrison Government has now remedied this failure by providing almost $300 million for this project  It is time that Labor honoured its commitment to the people of Geelong and Corangamite by providing the rest of the money required.

(Note: click on hyperlinks to see fact sheets for each of these projects)

 

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT, 6 October 2020

The 2020-21 federal budget, handed down tonight by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, is all about jobs. This is the most important federal budget since the Second World War. Whether it’s tax cuts for workers and businesses, infrastructure spending, investment in manufacturing, support for young jobseekers or massive investments to drive business investment, the Morrison government stands with the Australian people to do whatever it takes to drive jobs growth and our economic recovery. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Morrison, and in the wake of devastating drought and bushfire, Australians can be incredibly proud of how we have responded to this global pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods. Victorians, of course, have had it particularly tough.

Underpinned by our unprecedented economic plan, the federal budget will support all sectors of our economy at this critical time for our nation. Of the new announcements we have heard tonight, the tax cuts for low- and middle-income workers—11 million Australians—and the investment incentives for businesses, which allow businesses to write off 100 per cent of their purchases, are absolute game changers. The JobMaker hiring credit, along with major investment in apprentices and trainees, will provide unprecedented support to get young Australians into jobs. More people in jobs means a stronger budget position and a stronger nation.

As the Treasurer said tonight, the Morrison government has your back. Our economic plan will provide the fiscal firepower our nation needs to recover from this economic and health crisis, a crisis which has crippled thousands upon thousands of businesses through no fault of their own—particularly in Victoria, where, because of hotel quarantine and contact tracing disasters imposed by the Victorian government, community transmission has run out of control, leading to many draconian and economically crippling restrictions.

Our economic recovery plan for Australia will create jobs, rebuild our economy and secure Australia’s future, including in Victoria. Under our plan around three million taxpayers in Victoria will receive tax relief for the 2020-21 financial year, with 2.6 million taxpayers to receive up to $1,080 for low- and middle-income earners and $2,160 for dual income families. This means more money in the pockets of local households to not only assist with the cost of living but also generate economic activity and create jobs, because this is a budget all about jobs. Since the onset of the pandemic the government has provided $257 billion in direct economic support to cushion the blow and strengthen our recovery.

This includes $17 billion in JobKeeper payments and $7 billion in cash flow boost credit amounts to Victorian residents and entities. The 2021 budget commits a further $98 million nationally, including $25 billion in direct COVID-19 response measures and $74 billion in new measures—again, all to create jobs. Other key measures include the extension of the first home buyer deposit scheme; an additional $1 billion to support the construction of affordable housing; a $500 boost for pensioners; and a $1.5 billion modern manufacturing strategy to ensure we have an internationally competitive and resilient manufacturing sector and, in the process, create more high-value jobs. Tax relief for Victorian businesses will allow 99 per cent of businesses to deduct the full cost of depreciable assets in the year they are installed, and will allow companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion to offset losses against previous profits on which tax has been paid to generate a refund. This will drive incredible confidence and investment by every business, small, medium and large, across our country.

There’s a $2 billion investment in road safety upgrades to save lives; an additional $1 billion to support local councils to immediately upgrade local roads, footpath and street lighting; $2 billion in concessional loans for farmers; $2 billion for vital water infrastructure; and $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund, which will include significant opportunities, including in the Corio, Corangamite, Ballarat and Bendigo electorates. There’s record funding for health, education, disability services and aged care, including 23,000 new home-care packages to support older Australians to stay at home longer. And, once the aged care royal commission hands down its findings next year, more significant funding will flow.

I am incredibly proud that the budget is funding major local projects in my region to drive jobs and investment. These include $292 million to duplicate Barwon Heads Road from Settlement Road to Reserve Road, including a new bridge over the railway line at Marshall, creating 292 jobs. This, regrettably, is the road which Labor forgot. It committed to fund it at the last state election but, so far, not one construction dollar has been allocated in the state budget. There’s $200 million for upgrades to the Warrnambool line, which will deliver track works to deliver the ride quality, reliability and resilience of the line for passenger and freight rail services. This will create another 640 jobs.

There is $30 million to support planning for the extension of the Melbourne electrified network to Wyndham Vale on the Geelong line and Melton on the Ballarat line, and a massive $605 million has been brought forward into the forward estimates for the accelerated planning and delivery of stage 2 of the Geelong rail duplication between Waurn Ponds and South Geelong, delivering 1,300 direct and indirect jobs as well as faster and more reliable passenger and freight rail services. For a very long time, I have called on the Victorian government to bring forward this project. We now have this agreement in place, and that is wonderful news for our region. I have advocated for this project for many years, and this is a great day for the people of the Geelong and Corangamite regions.

There is, of course, a critical investment for Geelong. The fuel security package will deliver a major boost to Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery, including an estimated $70 million per annum in a refinery production payment. And let’s not forget the two incredible defence vehicle manufacturing projects. We’ve announced a $2.3 billion extension of the howitzer defence project to be based in Geelong. This is an absolute game changer and one of the biggest investments we’ve ever seen in our region, a program which will deliver up to 350 jobs. And then there is the decision to go to full-scale production of the Hawkei defence vehicle in Bendigo, delivering more than 200 jobs.

After what we have endured as a nation, after this shocking year, our economic recovery plan delivers economic resilience and support, hope and opportunity ahead. We have climbed mountains before as a nation and we will do so again. Thank you.

6 October 2020