Press conference, Port Macquarie Airport

Luke Hartsuyker MP, Member for Cowper: It's great to be here at Port Macquarie with Mayor Peta Pinson and National Party candidate Pat Conaghan and with the Deputy Prime Minister, here to inspect the great work that's going on at Port Macquarie Airport—a great example of Local, State and Federal Government working together to produce a great outcome. Peta, it's a great project.

Peta Pinson, Mayor, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council: Thank you. Yes it is. I'd like to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister, taking the time to visit Port Macquarie and to have a look at the great work that we're doing here. We're upgrading the airport—almost a $10 million project. It's wonderful the support that we've received from the Federal Government and we thank them for that. Also, having partnerships with the State Government as well ensures that our community sees an airport expanded in 2018/19, the expectation is, and one that will serve our community leading into the future as well. So, it's a wonderful day and it's lovely to have you here and thank you for being with us.

Michael McCormack: Well thank you, Mayor Peta, and it is fantastic to be here, particularly with Luke Hartsuyker, hard-working Member for Cowper, and potentially the new Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan. I know Pat is really looking forward—as am I, as is Luke, and as is of course Peta—to see this project completed. Luke has told me so much about it. It shows when the three levels of Government—Local, as in Port Macquarie-Hastings; the State Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government and the federal Liberal-Nationals Government get together and build infrastructure that's going to create jobs and opportunity for the future.

I really look forward to seeing this project completed. We know that visitor numbers through Port Macquarie Airport are 250,000 each year. We also know that 46 per cent of international tourists actually visit a regional centre. Now, that's a regional centre; it's other than the Gold Coast, other than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. We want more people coming into regional areas. We want more people to visit the regions such as Port Macquarie, to see the great coastal areas, to see the friendly people, to the businesses, to spend money. It's a great project. I really look forward to spending more time here and visiting when it's completed. I know Pat Conaghan does too. He's an outstanding candidate. We select outstanding candidates in the National Party. Pat, I'd like you to step up and say a few words and I'd be happy to take any questions.

Patrick Conaghan, National Party candidate for Cowper: Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister. Yes, it is a great investment in infrastructure. Being a local here, I've flown from here many, many times. We encourage that investment and it's going to be a great thing for the Port Macquarie community. So, it's a wonderful investment in the airport for Port Macquarie and for the Port Macquarie people generally.

Journalist: Deputy PM, the Coffs Council has called for the consideration of an alternate route for the Coffs Harbour Bypass. Is there a risk that that money will go to another project if you can't agree on a route?

Michael McCormack: The $971 million that the Commonwealth Government has invested in the Coffs Bypass is going to be used for the Coffs Bypass. We look forward to community consultation and community input into the process—into the alignment—and they're having their say. They're having their say at the moment. That ability to have their say concludes on 30 November and we encourage, indeed, we implore local people to have their say. We want to see the Pacific Highway completed; the State Government wants to see it completed. That's why the Federal Government, through Luke Hartsuyker's hard work—it's been his 17 years of hard work and determination, of campaigning and fighting to make sure that Coffs Harbour has got this bypass. It's going to save lives, it's going to get our logistics happening sooner and safer, it's going to make sure that people get up the Pacific Highway sooner and safer. We want to see it built properly. We want to the community to have consultation; $971 million of federal money, a $1.2 billion project—$1.2 billion—that's a lot of money. It's a considerable amount of jobs in the construction phase. It's also going to save lives, but we want the community to have consultation, we want them to have their input. But it is going to happen. That money is good. That's what we get on and do, the Liberal and Nationals. We not only talk about it, we not only listen; we actually deliver and we build, and we'll be doing just that for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.