I rise in this adjournment debate to provide a progress report on some of the key projects the Morrison Liberal government is delivering for the Corangamite electorate, across the greater Geelong region and through south-west Victoria. I am indeed honoured to be a regional senator for Victoria, but I want to reiterate that the Liberals are continuing to deliver in spades for the mighty Corangamite electorate, and that we are, in fact, the only ones proudly delivering for the mighty Corangamite electorate.
While Labor in Victoria is embroiled in the most shocking crisis of its own making—behaviour that shows that Labor is rotten to the core in Victoria—our government, led by Prime Minister Morrison and led here in the Senate by Senator Cormann, is getting on with the business of putting Australians first at this most extraordinary, difficult time for our nation. While our focus is on delivering the urgent economic and health response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are also continuing to deliver on the many investments on which Australians rely to support their communities, whether they be road and rail infrastructure upgrades, community infrastructure, health facilities, better telecommunications or of course vital investments to support jobs growth. Tonight I want to present a bit of a report card on some of the key investments in our region. I have my Senate office now in Geelong, so I am still very much a part of this particular region.
The wonderful news for so many residents living in south-west Victoria is that the Princes Highway duplication is almost complete. While the state member for South Barwon tried erroneously to open that project of his own accord last year, the fact of the matter is that that project is not quite complete. But it is a wonderful testament to our commitment to better roads for regional Victoria: an investment of some $550 million in partnership with the state which is delivering so much for regional communities, for regional businesses and of course for families.
Another wonderful project is the howitzer Defence project: the building and sustaining of 30 self-propelled howitzers which our government has committed to Geelong, which will not only provide vital capability for the Australian Army but will deliver up to 350 jobs. When Labor cancelled this project in 2012, they neglected a huge opportunity to support Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry whilst stripping the Army of a much-needed capability. I am incredibly proud of our commitment to this great project. I have to put on record that it is the height of hypocrisy for the member for Corio to criticise anyone in relation to this project when we consider Labor’s dismal record.
It is a great project that demonstrates our commitment to local jobs and to advanced manufacturing in the Geelong region.
I’m delighted to see some great progress with our commitment to aquatic facilities on both the Bellarine and the Surf Coast. Today the Surf Coast Shire has approved, in principle, a $38.5 million aquatic and health facility which includes a 50-metre pool—one of the conditions for funding for our $20 million commitment made before the last election. This is a massive win for the Surf Coast community, for community health, for wellbeing and for swimming safety. I have fought for this facility for such a long time, and now, again, I call on the state Labor government to deliver the funding shortfall of some $9 million that is required to match the Commonwealth’s funding, so that this dream can be realised. I am incredibly hopeful that state Labor will come to the table. I want to particularly acknowledge the incredible community effort which has gone into advocating for an aquatic facility, including by the Surf Coast Aquatic Leisure Centre Action Group. As they so passionately argued, ‘Build it and we will swim,’ and we’re very much hoping that will happen.
Of course, I’m also very proud of the $10 million commitment we made to a Bellarine outdoor pool, and I’m also very proud of the leadership shown by Mayor Stephanie Asher. We are, in contrast to Labor, determined to make this happen. As locals may remember, Labor committed to nothing more than a small amount of feasibility funding. The Morrison Liberal government, in fact, committed to $10 million, and we have a great vision for the people of the Bellarine. I very much hope, again, that state Labor will come to the table with funding for stage 2 of this project. This is under feasibility consideration right now. It will be, we hope, in Drysdale but is also a great win for this community and demonstrates the Liberals’ commitment to the people of Corangamite.
We’ve also have had some very good progress on the Geelong rail duplication project stage 1, which is a second platform and a pedestrian overpass at Waurn Ponds. It is contracted and has got underway. The state government has finalised the project proposal for stage 2, which is duplication of the track from Waurn Ponds through to South Geelong, upgrade of the Marshall and South Geelong railway stations and the grade separation of several roads, including the Surf Coast Highway. But it is disappointing that this project has taken so long to deliver. The business case in itself took two years. Back in 2015, when I first started campaigning to fund this project, which is all about delivering faster and more reliable rail services, the responsible Victorian minister, Jacinta Allan, said it was not a priority. This federal government is now delivering some 80 per cent of the total cost of the project, some $850 million, combined with works on the Warrnambool line, and we are very proud of our commitment to faster, more reliable rail in the Geelong region. I want to place on record the letter which the Prime Minister wrote to the Premier last August requesting that the Premier nominate infrastructure projects for the fast-tracking of funding. It is disappointing that this project was not nominated, and I again urge the state Labor government to get on with this incredibly important project.
We have had some really major challenges with the infrastructure. There has been some serious botched planning for the Geelong Ring Road extension, and Labor has failed to deliver any funding to duplicate the Barwon Heads Road, as it promised to do before the last state election. Of course, there is also no matching funding to the $2 billion that we committed to more than a year ago for fast rail between Melbourne and Geelong. That is incredibly disappointing. We need to see a plan, we need to see a commitment and we need to see the Premier deliver on better rail services for regional Victoria.
I’m delighted that the $370 million Geelong City Deal, the funding agreement for which I fought so hard, has now been signed by all parties, supported by $183 million from the Morrison Liberal government. It is delivering some wonderful projects, including the upgrade of the Apollo Bay Harbour, great infrastructure facilities for Kennett River, the Lorne-Point Grey upgrade, a huge investment into the Twelve Apostles, a new convention centre for Geelong and a new ferry terminal for Queenscliff.
These are critical infrastructure projects to drive the visitor economy in particular, and we know how important these investments will be as we work so hard to reopen our economy and to build the jobs growth that we so desperately need.
There are also plenty of other investments being rolled out: a new headspace for Ocean Grove, which is due to open in the next few months; upgraded medical facilities for Portarlington; a large number of new community sporting facilities; and surf lifesaving club upgrades. Of course, works have already started on a $193 million upgrade on the Point Wilson ammunition wharf, which is very important for our defence capability, and there are some great private investments for our region. The Spirit of Tasmania will make Geelong home—wonderful news!—and today Viva Energy announced an incredible commitment to establishing an LNG gas import terminal. There are great things happening in our region, and I’m so proud of the work of the Morrison government and how we are delivering for Corangamite, for Geelong and for south-west Victoria.
16 June 2020