Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (12:47): It gives me great pleasure to be able to stand and talk about the achievements of this government. And there is no more appropriate time to speak about the achievements of this government at this very point in time when we have the Council of Mayors South East Queensland in the very parliament today. It is a body of mayors made up of seven shires, predominantly around the south-east corner from Redlands down to the Gold Coast. I have four mayors that cross across my federal electoral boundaries: Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley and Logan—exceptional local government representatives in their own right.
But when I stand and speak about the government’s achievements, I want to particularly draw the attention of the House to the government’s national Bridges Renewal Programme. It is such an important and well-deserved program that lands very well in my electorate. I have in the Scenic Rim local council area no less than 132 bridges in need of repair. That is a lot of bridges—132 bridges. So for the local government, in that capacity, to try and get through that on their rates base would take many, many decades. I know that Mayor Greg Christensen is very appreciative of the partnership work that we do in this space. You think, why would it be so important to go to the backblocks of somewhere and repair an old timber bridge? Because it is the amount of commerce that comes out of these areas—whether or not they are silage tankers taking feed in for chickens that feed the Australian landscape with protein, whether or not it is milk coming out of my electorate and whether or not it is the vegetables that end up on the plates. The amount of commerce that comes out of these areas is overwhelming.
In my electorate, agriculture is by far the largest contributor to the GDP and, as a result, the government is delivering improved safety through targeted national infrastructure programs, including $360 million for the Bridges Renewal Program and $3.98 billion for Roads to Recovery. Again, it is about partnering with local government. To me, the best value for money that the federal government gets is when we partner with either private enterprise or an organisation which is as closely connected to the people as possible. When we invest and partner with state governments, which we often do on projects, the percentage of administration costs increases exponentially, but when we partner with local government, in particular on Roads to Recovery funding, I suggest that the vast majority of the money that lands at local government level, whether it is in the Lockyer Valley, Logan City, the Gold Coast or the Scenic Rim, ends up as bitumen or grader hours in my electorate somewhere—money well invested.
In addition to that, we are also investing just over $600 million for the Black Spot Program. That has been exceptionally well received in the electorate. I have been the recipient of many Black Spot Programs in my area. To give you an idea, it is undulating country, it is range country, there is the Gold Coast Hinterland and there are tight turns. A number of rangers crawl up and down the other side. My electorate is flanked from the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing over to the Gold Coast Hinterland and Tamborine Mountain. That undulating country does lend itself to unfortunate accidents. It plays a role. All three programs, whether it is the national Bridges Renewal program, the Black Spots Program or Roads to Recovery, it is money well invested by the federal government, partnering with local government who are closest to the people on the ground who understand the demands and our local constituents’ needs.
In closing, I want to thank the mayors for the way that they prioritise these applications in their areas. I want to wish them well with their deliberations and the advocacy that they do for each of their communities while they are here in Canberra. Politics is no different to good commercial business. Politics should always be about strong relationships. I am proud to say that I have a strong relationship with each of the mayors, irrespective of their political leanings.
Video of speech: https://youtu.be/yuyPDJ2VnmM