Local, Independant and Effective

Prime Minister promises Minister's visit within next month to begin rail upgrade process

Posted May 19, 2017


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:17): My question is to the Prime Minister.

Mr Burke: You just added $10 billion!

Mr Bowen interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi will resume her seat. The member for McMahon is warned. The Manager of Opposition Business will cease interjecting. The member for Indi has the call and she is entitled to ask her question.

Ms McGOWAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, I would like to congratulate you and your government on the significant investment in rail infrastructure and your commitment to the $100 million upgrade to the Victorian North East line in the budget. My community, led by the Hume Corridor Rail Group and the Border Rail Action Group, have lobbied long and hard for this. They are eager to know: will this funding mean the end of the blame game? The success of this project is dependent on strong collaboration between all levels of government. My request, Prime Minister, is: will you please lead this collaboration and call together all the stakeholders so that the communities of north-east Victoria will actually receive faster, more reliable rail services sooner rather than later?

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:18): I thank the honourable member for her question. I want to acknowledge her advocacy and also the advocacy of my colleagues the member for Farrer just across the border and, of course, the member for Murray, the member for Mallee and all of our Victorian MPs and senators who have campaigned so hard to see this substantial infrastructure investment in the honourable member's state.

As part of a $500 million regional rail package for Victoria, my government has committed $100 million to upgrade the North East line running from Melbourne to Albury. My government has listened to the concerns of communities in Seymour, Benalla, Euroa, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Albury, and the coalition has delivered. We know that people want to use the rail more but do not because it is unreliable. We know that the trains go slower than they should because the track is ageing and needs repair. We know that communities want more frequent services. Our $100 million will fix the track. We will re-sleeper, make drainage improvements and other track enhancements to improve the reliability of services and remove speed restrictions. The minister will be there over the next month talking to communities about the project and how to make this important upgrade a reality as quickly as possible. The investment will grow the honourable member's region, better connect people to those towns and centres and to jobs services and opportunities. They will be able to make a doctor's appointment in Melbourne reliably, on time, and they will be able to catch the train to the footy knowing they will be there in time for the kick-off.

We are also providing $8.4 billion into the ARTC to build the Brisbane-to-Melbourne inland rail project—a project that will also benefit the communities along the North East line. The inland rail will improve the national land freight network, reducing transport costs for farmers in Indi and Murray, linking those regions to all of the opportunities of domestic and international markets. It will take thousands of trucks off the roads, making all of our highways and, in particular, the streets of Indi and surrounding areas safer.

We are doing more to ensure, as the honourable member is well aware, that the benefits of growth are shared in her electorate. Our Regional Jobs and Investment Packages are helping regions to diversify their economies and grow sustainable employment, including $20 million in the Goulburn Valley. We have also committed $10 million to road upgrades in Indi and, as a telecommunications enthusiast, the honourable member will be delighted to be reminded that we are rolling out 38 mobile phone towers in Indi. There are more than 57,000 premises in Indi that can access the NBN. So our record investments in her electorate and in all honourable members' electorates are creating jobs, growing the economy and, in particular, growing regional economies. You do not need to look further than regional Australia to see our commitment to jobs and growth. (Time expired)

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