Press conference, Canberra

Keith Pitt: It’s fantastic to be here today with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, with our Mayor from the Bundaberg Regional Council, Jack Dempsey, and Darren Everard, the Deputy Mayor from Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Today we have a critical announcement for my electorate of Hinkler as part of a Hinkler Regional Deal. Today the Federal Government is announcing that it will commit $172.9 million to the Hinkler Regional Deal in tomorrow night’s Budget. This is fantastic news for us locally. This is about driving jobs, it’s about driving our local economy, it’s about local jobs into the future. Now, in terms of the projects themselves, some of the announcements that we have today are part of what council has put up and of course, what we are being approached for from private business in terms of connected infrastructure.

So today, with my colleagues and the Deputy Prime Minister, as part of the $173 million package, we are announcing that $40 million will be provided to Fraser Coast Regional Council for their town centre redevelopment. Along with that will be $7.7 million for what’s known as the Boundary Road extension of the Urraween Road that provides a critical access road through Hervey Bay. In the northern part of the electorate, $32 million is provided from the Federal Government for a project in Bundaberg which is known as the ‘de-maining’ of the town centre, effectively a bypass around the town centre, to allow the town redevelopment which council has on the books to continue into the future.

And finally today, we are announcing a $10 million commitment to the Gladstone Ports Corporation for the construction of a multi-use conveyor at the Bundaberg Port. Now, this conveyor will be able to be utilised by businesses surrounding the port; it will allow them to be able to ship-load at the Bundaberg Port without the use of the sugar industry’s infrastructure. This means that we can now move on with more business locally. I know there are a lot of companies out there who are looking to use the Bundaberg Port for exports. This deal, of course, it's for the Hinkler electorate, but the benefits will flow across the regions—out into the West, to the South and to the North, particularly around port infrastructure. So we have real opportunities here for building our economy. We have real opportunities for local jobs into the future. And I'm just so pleased that the Federal Government has made this commitment and of course, we will continue to work with the local councils and of course, State Government, which today, I've got to say, have been a bit recalcitrant. But we will deliver as we said we would.

Michael McCormack: It's great to be here with Darren, it's great to be here with Jack; most importantly, it's great to be here with Keith. I know how hard Keith has worked for this regional investment. Often, when I go to Queensland I'm asked what are the three most important things. What are they? What are they for Queensland? And I often reply jobs, jobs and jobs.

This is going to be so critical for the amount of jobs that are going to be created throughout Hinkler—but as Keith Pitt has just said, not just Hinkler, not just his region, but indeed for all of Queensland, for regional Australia. This $172.9 million investment is going to be critical in job creation. It's going to provide, hope, confidence and a real future for the regions that Keith Pitt represents, particularly for youth. We want to make sure that there’s an environment there for youth to know that there's going to be a job for them today, tomorrow and well into the future. And this regional investment does just that.

This is a critical investment stream provided by the Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government in conjunction with local government—that area of government which is right at the coal face as it were for local people, making sure that local people have a future, have a job for the future. This is going to provide such economic output. I'm really delighted that it's just the day before Budget Day. This is in the Budget. This is real money. This is providing real hope and confidence for those people in Hinkler and beyond, that they'll have a job for today, I say again, a job for tomorrow and for many years to come.

Jack, would you like to make some comments?

Jack Dempsey: Thanks Deputy Prime Minister. This is another sign of this Federal Government investing into regional Australia. It's a magnificent announcement and certainly it brings future and hope to the region of the Bundaberg and certainly, we believe it's an economic multiplier not just for the Bundaberg region but right across the whole of the Wide Bay region. These are investments in transport connectivity and investments in our port infrastructure which is already identified by all six councils right across the Wide Bay region—the largest population mass outside Southeast Queensland. So we’ll ensure that we work through the details with our Federal counterparts as well as our State counterparts into the future to get the best value for dollar for people across the area. But today is a great announcement for the future and the hopes and dreams of young people wanting to have a future in Bundaberg region and a future in regional Queensland.

And I just want to say a big thank you to Keith Pitt for his advocacy over many months and over the last few years, for this is one of the largest announced deliveries for the Bundaberg region in its history. And now the work’s on—to work hard and get the best outcome going forward. But this means that young people have a future. The economic multipliers are there from these projects which will see other money flow into the region. It will give confidence to the other people in the community, from businesses to young people going through schools now, to know that they will have jobs and jobs and more jobs in the future for what is already one of the best places in Australia to live, in the Bundaberg region. Thank you.

Darren Everard: That’s the Hervey Bay region actually. Yes, this is a significant announcement that is going to be a game changer for our whole region. I just want to thank Keith and the Federal Government for their contribution, for sitting up and taking notice of our region. As the others have said, this is about jobs. But this is more important: It’s about the future of our region, and going forward I think Jack you would agree that this will take the Hinkler Electorate and Wide Bay region into the future with a strong base. From a Local Government point of view, Hervey Bay and on the Fraser Coast, now we can get on the way with our Cities Deal project which is our town centre. That will create more jobs in our region which we need. The Fraser Coast needs more jobs and this is a great, great, great starting point for us. We’re grateful for the assistance from the Federal Government. We look forward to this partnership going forward with all Government to make a better community for us all. Thanks very much.

Question: When will the money—I know its announced tomorrow night in the Budget [Indistinct]—I’m just wondering when you’ll actually start to take hold of this after the Budget tomorrow night?

Keith Pitt: The money will be committed in the Budget. We do have to work closely with regional councils and the State Government to ensure that these projects are delivered. They take planning, they take time and we are absolutely committed to delivering them as soon as we possibly can. But the reality around infrastructure is that it does have to be designed. We have to go through consultation processes. But the money is in the Budget.

Question: Great thanks Keith. And I notice that its $172 million in total with $40 going to the Fraser Coast and $32m and the $10m to the Bundaberg region, with the remaining money: where is that going?

Keith Pitt: As we said this morning, there will be $32 million to the Bundaberg Regional Councils area for the ‘de-maining’ of Quay Street, the bypass around the town centre. We do have more announcements to make. But the Budget’s only tomorrow night, you don't have long to wait. But today we are announcing that the quantum from the Federal Government is almost $173 million. This is the biggest announcement, to the best of my knowledge, in the electorate since its inception in 1984.

Journalist: Wonderful. Thank you.

Question: I just have a couple of quick question regarding the [Indistinct] because [Indistinct] Governments response when they said they won’t fund a deal and they criticised the Federal Government for essentially issuing the [Indistinct] local boundary rather than council boundary. Do you have a response to what they said [Indistinct]?

Keith Pitt: Well certainly all of the people around Hervey Bay and in the Fraser Coast region utilise the Fraser Coast Airport. That's of a great benefit to them. Anyone who is trying to export, particularly from minerals provinces and whether it’s wood pellets or any other type of product, they want to be exporting from a closer port. The multi-use conveyor will make that possible at the Bundaberg port. There are benefits throughout the region for the deal. I'm not going to play politics. I'll leave the nonsense to the State Labor Government.

Question: It’s just that there are concerns that Maryborough [Indistinct]… Hinkler electoral boundaries but still in the Fraser Coast region and [Indistinct] whether or not Maryborough’s going to be down on any funding?

Keith Pitt: So the State Seat of Maryborough actually has a large portion of the Hinkler electorate in it; that includes places like Toogoom and Burrum, Howard and Torbanlea. There's a substantial landmass inside the Maryborough State Electorate. But these are projects which benefit the entire region. The regional deals are, at the moment, very limited. There's only a few of them right around the country. We had to fight hard to get it delivered into our region and there are benefits for everyone in the region particularly with these infrastructure upgrades. So I look forward to them coming to fruition.

Question: Is there a time line [Indistinct] of the project that I can [Indistinct]…

Keith Pitt: Step one in the process was always to go out and consult which we've done. Step two is to determine the funding quantum which we've done. Step three will be to work closely with regional councils and the State Government in terms of the details on the project, the design, the engineering and the delivery. So we are at step two and this is a fantastic announcement for our region.

Question: Thanks. When you say that it’ll bring jobs to the region for young especially, are we look at putting on apprenticeships and traineeships? Will that be put through so that the younger generation can have jobs?

Keith Pitt: We delivered 20 apprentices under a trial program just last week into the electorate which is great news. But the best thing we can do locally is continue to drive our economy. A strong regional economy means more local jobs, more opportunities for our youth, more opportunities for apprentices. I know our youth unemployment rate has dropped from a horrendous 27.8 per cent to just under 20 per cent in the last quarterly assessment. I look forward to that trend continuing and we are doing everything we can to drive our economy and provide more local jobs.

Journalist: Great.

Question: I’m just wondering if there are [Indistinct] projects for Hervey Bay [Indistinct]…projects update.

Keith Pitt: So my understanding is there is a priority list that's been developed and discussed with the Department of Infrastructure. We have already funded one of those which is the Hervey Bay Airport Development for the industrial precinct. My understanding is that has resulted in a contract with an aviation construction firm to build planes at the Hervey Bay Airport industrial park that will deliver 100 jobs already. Our announcement today around the $40 million grant to the Fraser Coast Regional Council for the town centre redevelopment, obviously means jobs in constructions and roads. This is fantastic news for our region. It’s fantastic news for the people who live there. It’s fantastic news for those who are looking for work.