Ministers for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/ Latest releases from the Ministers en A centre for drought resilience innovation in Top End https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/littleproud/media-release/centre-drought-resilience-innovation-top-end <ul> <li>A Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub launches in Darwin</li> <li>Charles Darwin University to lead transformational drought resilience delivery</li> <li>An $8 million Australian Government investment, with $13.9 million contribution from Hub members</li> <li>This is one of eight hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> </ul> <p>A new Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub based in Darwin is set to transform the way that Top End producers and communities prepare for and respond to drought.</p> <p>Senator for the Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon, said that the Hub would oversee the co-design and delivery of innovative projects and practices aimed at boosting drought resilience and agricultural productivity. </p> <p>“This Top End Hub will be based at the Charles Darwin University with four nodes in Katherine, Alice Springs, Broome and Perth,” Dr McMahon said.</p> <p>“The Top End Hub and nodes will be a shopfront for producers to access innovative technologies and practices that will benefit the whole Top End of the Northern Territory and Western Australia agricultural sector with people on the ground. </p> <p>“The Hub and nodes will engage directly with producers, traditional owners and agribusinesses and take on the challenges of drought.</p> <p>“The major focus of the Top End Hub will be on co-creating innovative tools, techniques and practices to support producers and their communities to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability in agricultural lands management. I would expect the Hub will work closely with the network of existing research farms in the Northern Territory and Western Australia to avoid duplication.</p> <p>“Getting regional people working together to ensure research and development is useful for Top End producers and a vital step towards successful drought management in our communities.</p> <p>“The Hub has a consortium involving the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association, Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association, Northern Territory Farmers Association, Territory Natural Resource Management, the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group, Regional Development Australia NT and the WA and NT governments.”</p> <p>Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Scott Bowman AO, said it was vital to support those primary producers who continue to do it tough and to help prepare them for future seasons.<br />  <br /> “Charles Darwin University is thrilled lead the Top End Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub on behalf of our partners,” Professor Bowman said.</p> <p>“The Hub will empower primary producers with the practical tools and information they need during future dry conditions to maintain productivity, remain competitive and increase community resilience to drought impacts.”</p> <p>Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Top End Hub is one of eight across the country to be established that will support development and uptake of innovative technologies and practices that improve drought resilience.</p> <p>“Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs have come about through the forward-thinking Future Drought Fund – a long term, sustained investment of $100 million each year to build drought preparedness,” Minister Littleproud said.</p> <p>“Drought is a natural part of the Australian landscape and these hubs will play a critical role in helping farmers and agricultural communities to be better prepared.”</p> <h2><strong>Fast Facts:</strong></h2> <ul> <li>This is one of eight Hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> <li>The Hubs are the centrepiece of the Australian Government’s $86 million Future Drought Fund Research and Adoption Program.</li> <li>They will become flagship precincts for agricultural innovation.</li> <li>The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will lead the </li> <li>co-ordination of the Hubs, supporting them to become interconnected agricultural innovation precincts.</li> <li>Find out more by visiting <a href="http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund/research-adoption-program">www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund/research-adoption-program</a></li> </ul> Littleproud A centre for drought resilience innovation in Top End Transcript - Stand-Up Echuca-Moama Bridge https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/transcript-stand-echuca-moama-bridge <p><strong>DAMIAN DRUM</strong></p> <p>G’day, thanks very much. Damian Drum here on the banks of the Murray River here at Echuca, looking at the wonderful Echuca-Moama Bridge. Well, this bridge was obviously talked about by Eddie Hann back in the ‘80s, 1980 that was. This project has been 50 years in consideration, but it took the National Party with both State Governments back in 2013 to put their money on the table, the New South Wales National Party put their money on the table and federally Darren Chester as the Minister for Infrastructure put his money on the table to make this bridge a reality back in 2016. And later on this year we’re going to see this amazing spans actually meet across the Murray River and by mid-next year we’re expecting this bridge to be fully completed and operational.</p> <p>It’s a fantastic acknowledgement of the work that Michael McCormack is doing as the Minister for Infrastructure to make sure that this project is running on time and on budget. And it’s great to be able to welcome Michael here as the Leader of the National Party and also as the Minister for Infrastructure at the Federal level and to be able to show Michael this bridge, the biggest contract, biggest infrastructure project going on in regional Victoria at the minute. It’s happening right here in Echuca-Moama. It’s an amazing project employing over 400 people in construction. It’s going to save countless hours in transport times into the future.</p> <p>So, as I say, it’s a great pleasure to be able to invite Michael through but before I do that I’d just like to invite Peter Walsh, the Local Member, Leader of the State National Party, just to say a few words about this project as well. Peter.</p> <p><strong>PETER WALSH</strong></p> <p>Thanks very much, Damian. And to Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, welcome to Echuca. Deputy Prime Minister, it is a real pleasure to be a local member and show you this great project for this community here. Now I think through COVID, it reinforced how much we needed a new bridge here in Echuca when you had queues of one and two hours every day to get across the old bridge. At Easter the queue again was over an hour to get across the bridge. This will make sure that the community of Echuca and Moama can travel internally a lot easier and all those on a pass-through can get through a hell of a lot quicker.</p> <p>My office is on one of the roundabouts in town and you see all the big A-doubles, B-doubles struggling to get through the town. This is going to enable all those trucks to pass straight through and head north or south, whichever way they’re going. So welcome to Echuca. It is a great project. Success has many parents, and I think we’re all very proud of this. And we’re going to be even prouder when we can actually go across. A lot of people said, “I’ll never live to see that.” They are going to live to see it. And early next year they’re going to get to go across the bridge and that will be a fantastic time. There’ll be a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. But welcome to Echuca.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Thank you, Damian Drum, thank you, Peter Walsh. Echuca-Moama, it’s tourism central. It’s a destination point. So many people come here to spend time to relax, to rewind, to refresh. It is a great place to visit. Of course, we know that these tourist destinations need infrastructure. We know, as Damian has just enunciated, as Peter Walsh has just articulated, that these places need good infrastructure to get people from Victoria across to New South Wales and vice versa. Of course, if COVID has taught us one thing, it’s that you can holiday at home and have a great time, and that’s what we are encouraging. That’s what we are promoting at the moment. And when we can put in place the infrastructure that’s going to promote and enhance these liveable places, these tourist destination meccas, then it’s got to be a good thing.</p> <p>It’s great to be here. Eric Shearbold has told us just how important this is and the fact that about 97 to 98 per cent of the concrete, of the inputs into this bridge, into this bridge project, is Australian made. As Damian has said, 400 jobs. Also 1,000 indirect jobs. How good is that? When you’ve got that many people working on a project benefitting from the project, of course they’re big numbers. $323.7 million, of which $125.7 million is Commonwealth money. But it’s a project which we’re partnering with the Victorian and New South Wales Governments. So it’s three Governments coming together to build the capacity, to build this community, to make sure that we get these congestion bottlenecks out of the way forever. And this is going to be such a boom for this tourist destination.</p> <p>And I know that as more people decide to stay at home, to holiday at home, to visit these sorts of great areas in regional New South Wales, in regional Victoria, then this sort of infrastructure due to be connected up, as Damian Drum has said, not too long into the future, later this year. It’s going to be a great thing for Echuca-Moama. It’s going to only build these communities, these communities which want to welcome visitors from far and wide. But, as we go through the COVID recovery, this is also promoting jobs. It’s also making sure that these places can be their best selves.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister, with lockdowns happening Echuca was gridlocked all the way along the river. Are there plans in place to have another bridge further up the river nearer to Mildura?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, there’s 57 crossing points, as I understand it, across the mighty Murray and across the Victorian-New South Wales border. What we want to see is borders not closing. What we want to see is borders remaining open so that people can travel freely, so that we can put COVID-19 behind us. But we’re building infrastructure. We’ve got $110 billion of infrastructure, that decade pipeline investment at the moment. It’s supporting 100,000 jobs. We’re getting on with building more bridges, whether it’s at this particular crossing or whether it’s up and down the river. We want to make sure that we work with State Governments. We’ve partnered with both sides of the river – New South Wales and Victoria – to build the infrastructure that Australians need, expect, want and, most of all, deserve.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>And lockdowns have thought us that we do need that infrastructure sooner rather than later to, you know, carry the trucks across those two states.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, absolutely. And I come from Wagga Wagga. It was part of the COVID bubble that was created when we unfortunately had some of those lockdowns which were, you know, done at a moment’s notice. Border communities were reeling from the fact that there were decisions made in Melbourne which closed borders. And I appreciate – and I’m not going to Premiers – they did what they thought was best for their public health. But it did create a lot of angst, it did create a lot of uncertainty for business. It created a lot of uncertainty for kids just getting to and from school. Nobody knew it better than people who lived on these New South Wales-Victorian – in these New South Wales-Victorian border towns. And it was a huge impost.</p> <p>We’re hoping, of course, that, as I say, with the vaccine rollout that COVID will soon be but a memory. And, you know, not a great memory, but, again, I say it has taught us a few things – and that is that regional Australia is the safest place in all of the world in which to be. Safest place in all of the world in which to holiday. That’s we’re building the infrastructure to make regional Australia even a better place.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>This one is unique in that it has two overpasses is part of the project. Is this something that will be carried on to those other bridge projects that might happen on the Murray?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, absolutely. And as was explained, this is the first cantilever-type bridge that’s being built with the Victorian Government partnering since the Bolte Bridge, which was finished in 1999. So this is an engineering masterpiece. The scale and scope of this bridge is magnificent. It’s great to come here and see it. Last time I was here, well, there wasn’t anything but a few gum trees around and the occasional kookaburra laughing at Damian Drum. But this is a huge project. And I’m proud that I am, in fact, a colleague of Damian Drum and Peter Walsh because this is what Nationals in Government do. This is what we get on with. We build infrastructure, we identify the needs and then we get on. We partner up and we build.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister, you’ve spent a fair bit of time with Peter and Damian this morning. What other issues affecting regional Victoria have you been discussing today?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, where do we start and where do we stop? I mean, obviously we’re doing our best to build back after the COVID recession that we had to have. This has been a very trying 12 to 15 months and we’re not certainly out of the woods yet. And so job creation, making sure that agriculture can even grow, despite the drought, despite bushfires, despite flooding in some areas and despite COVID, agriculture grew from a $60 billion enterprise to a $66 billion enterprise and that’s on the back of everything we’ve done to promote and enhance markets when the Chinese markets have proven a bit difficult in recent months. So what we’re doing is we’re making sure that agriculture can only grow in the future. We endeavouring to partner up with, of course, the National Farmers Federation and its ambitions to grow agriculture to be a $100 billion enterprise by the year 2030.</p> <p>So we’ve discussed, of course, jobs in agriculture. We’ve discussed jobs in mainstream regional communities, because it’s not always just about agriculture; it’s about jobs per se. And, of course, we’ve provided the support through JobKeeper. That had to, of course, come to an end, but we’re making sure that people know that there are jobs out here in regional Australia. The Regional Australia Institute has identified more than 55,000 jobs in regional Australia right now. So Peter Walsh as the State Leader of the Nationals in Victoria, myself as the Nationals Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Team are out there spruiking the benefits of regional living.</p> <p>I know Damian Drum wears the carpet out into my office coming in with ideas about how more people can move to regional Australia. And the Regional Australia Institute actually has a campaign at the moment, Move to More, so that people who live in Sydney, who live in Melbourne, can understand full well the benefits of regional living, come and take that tree change, move to a regional area, they’ll never regret it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>[Indistinct] runway upgrade. [Indistinct] regional airports [indistinct].</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, there’s $2.57 million on the table and it’s part of a Community Development Grant working with the Lions Club. We understand that, of course, these airport strips are very important. I landed on one today, landed in a regional airport today. Every other day of the week I’m landing at an airport strip. Some are very elaborate and some are not. That’s why we’ve got these programs and infrastructure funding programs in place to make sure that we can get regional aviation to grow into the future. Cohuna is a very important place. We understand that it needs an airport, it needs a viable airport, and that’s why we’ve put that money towards it. And, of course, as you identified, there’s other programs that they may well apply for in the future. But we’ll work with the Lions Club, the proponents of that project, to make sure that this is a goer.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>There were some questions around that $2.57 million, whether the Lions Club could appropriately take that money over given that it wasn’t dedicated to them when it was granted. Is that something [indistinct]?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>My department’s working very closely with the Lions Club to make that happen.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Moving on to the Murray Darling Basin rail. Are you [indistinct] upgrade, is that something that will be happening as part of the [indistinct]?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, we’ve put now more than $400 million towards the Murray Basin rail. This is an incredible amount of money. We’ve done our best to work with the Victorian Government. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had any number of discussions with the Minister – and even the kookaburras realise how difficult this project has been. But just recently we put another $200.2 million on the table. That’s on top of the $240 million we put before. Five million of that, the recent money, was towards planning. So I want to partner with the Victorian Government. I want to work in good faith with the Victorian Government. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s not about the Government, it’s not about politicians; it’s actually about the people in those communities who want to transfer grain, who want to put more freight on rail. That’s what it’s about. That’s who it’s about. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. There’s been, as I say, more than $400 million put towards this. It’s a very important project. I just want the Victorian Government to get on with it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>[Indistinct] Road upgrade. Where are those discussions at?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Look, I’ll have to take that one on notice. But, as I say, we’ve got $110 billion of infrastructure at the moment we’re rolling out. Regional Victoria, indeed, Melbourne, is all part of that big infrastructure build. I’m happy to work with any Government of any political persuasion to get things done. That’s what people expect.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>What use is having more national cabinet meetings to address the vaccination program if the vaccinations are still missing?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, what we’ve done is we’ve secured another 20 million Pfizer doses, so they’ll be arriving at this stage later in this year. We want to make sure that the vaccine rollout is as efficient as possible. Yes, there’s been difficulties. Some of the doses were not available from Europe. And I understand that there was a mad scramble amongst European countries to protect as many of their own vaccines for their own people as possible. But that’s why I’m pleased that we’ve got CSL in Melbourne doing our own sovereign manufacturing capability as far as the AstraZeneca is concerned. We’ll take the best medical advice. We’ve done that all the way through. We’ve got the AstraZeneca. We’re producing it locally. We’ve got those additional Pfizer vaccines – 20 million in total, and we’ll get out, we’ll make sure that if we have to go through twice a week national cabinet meetings to make sure that everybody’s on the same page, that’s what the Prime Minister will do.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Do you think vaccine passports are a good idea?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>It’s possible. If the medical experts tell us that’s what is a good idea, if the State health authorities say that they’re willing and prepared and able to do that, then that’s potentially a goer.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Deaths in custody, should the nation feel ashamed of more than 400 Indigenous Australians have died in custody in 30 years since the royal commission?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>No death in custody is ever good. None. And we want to work with communities, with Indigenous peaks, to make sure that we, you know, don’t have any deaths in custody. This is a tragedy. Of course it is. And we want to make sure that we prevent at all levels and at all stages any possible or potential death in custody, of course.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Do you think the Prime Minister should apologise to Christine Holgate as [indistinct]?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, look, the Prime Minister has made statements towards this regard, and I’d refer you to those comments that the Prime Minister has made. I you know there’s a Senate estimates inquiry going on at the moment and that’s the proper way to do things.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Was Kristina Keneally [indistinct]?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>I’ve no idea, but Kristina Keneally is always about the photo ops, she’s always about the political stunt. She’s never, you know, really there for the people who she sometimes claims she is. I mean, she made various statements about regional funding the other day. I mean, she wouldn’t have the foggiest about regional funding quite frankly. But, you know, doesn’t mind putting it up on Twitter, doesn’t mind putting out that vitriol. I’m concentrating on making sure that our regional communities can get the funding that they deserve. I’m proud of that. And I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve put in place measures so that Australians who do want to come to the country come here in the right way. Now I appreciate this is a very difficult and sensitive topic, a difficult and sensitive issue that, of course, we will be working through, continuing in the right and proper way, as you’d expect us to. Under Labor, I mean, there were so many people who came here by boat, so many lives lost in those 50,000 arrivals by those hundreds if not thousands of boats that arrived when they shouldn’t have. And now Labor wants to turn around and criticise the Government for stopping the boats and protecting those people’s lives. I mean really, it’s a bit rich. I don’t take lectures from Kristina Keneally on that or any other topic.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Do you think it’s a bit suspicious that she was told there were no planes available soon after [indistinct]?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, again, I say I’m not aware of the circumstances. That would be a matter for the Immigration Minister or the Home Affairs Minister. I’m not aware of the full details. You might have to ask that question to them. Thank you very much.</p> <h2 class="CxSpFirst"><strong>Media contacts: </strong></h2> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860<br /> Caitlin Donaldson, 0428 389 880</p> McCormack Transcript - Stand-Up Echuca-Moama Bridge Notice of Intention to extend temporary suspension of the Norfolk Island Regional Council https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/marino/media-release/notice-intention-extend-temporary-suspension-norfolk-island-regional-council <p>Today, I issued a notice of my intention to extend the temporary suspension of the Norfolk Island Regional Council (NIRC), and the appointment of interim administrator Michael Colreavy, for a further three months.</p> <p>This has been done in line with the requirements, and my authority, under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (NI).</p> <p>The NIRC has made progress towards restoring its proper or effective functioning during the current term of the interim administrator. However, the NIRC needs to do more work in order to restore its proper or effective functioning. It is important an interim administrator continues to oversee these efforts.</p> <p>I will continue to keep you informed as any decisions are made.</p> Marino Notice of Intention to extend temporary suspension of the Norfolk Island Regional Council Transcript - Connect GV Presser https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/transcript-connect-gv-presser <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>12:31PM</strong></p> <p><strong>CAROLYNNE FROST </strong></p> <p>I’d just like to say thank you and welcome to Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and also our local member, Damian Drum. We are absolutely ecstatic to be able to show you what $2 million has contributed to our wonderful building. So thank you so much for making the effort to come and see your efforts and we really appreciate it.</p> <p><strong>DAMIAN DRUM</strong></p> <p>Thanks, Caz. So it is great to be here. It’s always great to be here with Caz, whatever the issue or whatever the occasion may be. But certainly to look at this amazing facility that was put in as an election commitment and, sure enough, the fact that the Coalition was able to be re-elected enabled us to come good on that promise of $2 million.</p> <p>It must also be acknowledged that that $2 million was on top of $3 million plus that the community of Shepparton had helped the committee at ConnectGV raise over a number of years. So it really was – and as I’ve said to Michael this morning, ConnectGV is one of these community-based organisations that is incredibly well backed by the community of Shepparton, by the broader community of Shepparton. It matters not whether we have people with disabilities in our family, it simply doesn’t matter. The support for Connect GV is enormous. And as Zoe and Rob were showing me, as they showed us and Michael – showed myself and Michael around this facility, what we have here in Shepparton now is a state-of-the-art, world’s best facility for everybody that may need some additional – some special help so that they can reach their potential in life. And that’s what this is all about.</p> <p>And Michael, I just want to thank you very much. It’s one thing to be able to make these promises but certainly for us to have no doubt at all that you’re going to come through with the money once we were returned to Government, I just want to thank you very much.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>That’s a pleasure. Thank you Damian and thank you Caz and thank you especially to Zoe for showing us through. Zoe’s just one of many people who will utilise this facility this year, next year and ongoing. And I know how important this is going to be for her and her friends. ConnectGV, it’s connecting community, it’s connecting people, it’s connecting the dots to make people’s lives so much better, so much richer. And we saw the art and craft, we saw the physical dimensions within this complex, this state-of-the-art facility, as Damian Drum has just called it. It’s amazing to see what $2 million will do backed on, of course, what he’s described as another $3 million by the community. And we look forward to seeing this facility even enhanced into the future. We look forward to seeing the old facility makes way for valuable car parking space.</p> <p>It’s been a very valuable day for me – I’ve seen the Foodshed, I’ve seen FRUITCo, I’ve seen, of course, the Echuca-Moama Bridge. And what I’ve seen right through, including the Shepparton Art Museum, is a community spirit second to none in Australia. And this is what regional Australia is all about. It is about connecting community. It is about making these communities more livable. And it’s one of the reasons why so many Melbournians, so many Sydneysiders are actually choosing to come to regional Australia to live. No matter what their state of life is, no matter what their background is, they want to come to regional Australia for a better life. And no better place to do that than in regional Victoria.</p> <p>And as Damian Drum has shown me today, there are so many opportunities here, so many jobs being created, so many enhancements that the community has benefited from. Yes, there’s been Government support. But it’s also the community getting in and backing its own people, backing its ideas and backing its vision. And that’s why I’m so excited to be here today. Sorry for knocking your microphone. I get a bit effusive. I get so excited about regional Australia. Anyway, any questions? And Zoe’s just as excited as I am, even though she is wearing a Richmond top. We’ll forgive her for that. Go the Hawks! Any questions?</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Just with your visit to FRUITCo this morning, what was your biggest take away from that?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>The sheer scale and size of it. I mean, a 35-metre-tall building which is going to provide such an opportunity to optimise each and every individual piece of fruit so that it has that production line capability, taking in many companies, taking in many workers, taking in many of those farmers who produce that fruit and the labours of their produce. But each and every piece of fruit is going to be identified and photographed in such a way that its potential will be maximised.</p> <p>So this can only be good for the Goulburn Valley. It can only be good for job creation. It can only be good for market opportunities. So I’m really going to be excited to come back after the next season to see that facility in operation.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>The May Budget’s coming up. Ministers are already starting to go through where money needs to be spent.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Tell me about it. I’ve sat around the expenditure review table for many, many hours in recent weeks.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Should the GV be excited about this year’s Budget?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Regional Australia should. And the budget in October last year – albeit a little bit different time of year because of COVID – was a very exciting budget for regional Australia. What we saw in that budget was the amount of infrastructure that we’re spending increased to $110 billion. So that generates employment for 100,000 people. And much of that, a lot of that, is in regional Australia. We don’t miss out. We get our fair share.</p> <p>And whether it’s – I know the bypass for Shepparton that Damian Drum has been working so hard, whether it’s the Shepparton Art Museum – I went through that with Rebecca Coates. She showed me this inspirational facility that won’t be just great for regional Victoria, won’t be just great for regional Australia, won’t be just great for Australia, but, indeed, the whole world will come to Shepparton to see SAM. And why wouldn’t they – it’s going to have one of the very best Aboriginal art collections. It’s going to have so much more to draw people in.</p> <p>Yes, the budget in May is going to be very exciting for regional Australia. I’ve been working very hard with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and the Finance Minister to make sure that the budget is what people would expect as we build out of COVID, as we recover from this global pandemic. And Australia has done very well. And I thank regional Victorians and regional Australians in particular for doing the social distancing, for wearing the masks when asked to do so, you know, obeying lockdown laws. They’ve been very tough, particularly here in Victoria, when some of these communities many hundreds of kilometres away from Spring Street were still under the same conditions that were in Melbourne, same conditions that were in Swanston Street or wherever else you’d like to go in inner-city Melbourne. And yet they hadn’t had a COVID case for many months, if at all. And yet they complied, they did the right thing and they kept their communities safe.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>On the Shep Bypass, the State Government’s had a business case for that since the end of last year. Has the Transport Minister been in touch with your office about what money is needed to get that off the ground?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>I speak to Jacinta Allan all the time and we work together collaboratively, cooperatively, to build infrastructure. And I want to see stage 1 started. I want to see that work beginning, because I know that it’s going to help create jobs and employment and local procurement opportunities for Shepparton and beyond. We’ve seen just with this facility, with the SAM facility, how many people were engaged in active employment, even through COVID, with the construction of these two facilities just to name a couple. So, yes, I do want to see better road infrastructure and that’s one of the big pieces of the puzzle.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Speaking of roads, then, with two-thirds of road deaths occurring outside of metro areas, why won’t you commit to extending the Road Safety Program past its two-year allotment?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, we’ll always – they are rolling programs. And we’re spending at the moment a record amount of money on regional road infrastructure. We’re spending $2 billion on a Road Safety Package right across Australia. We’re spending $1.5 billion dollars on the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure benefitting each and every one of the 537 councils around Australia. Now, I’m not going to say what’s going to happen in two years’ time, but given the fact that when I took over as Infrastructure Minister in February 2018, the infrastructure budget was $50 billion. Now it’s $110 billion. So I think you can see from that, my commitment to infrastructure. And given the fact that I am from Wagga Wagga, I am from a regional community, just like Damian Drum is, we’re proud of our regional communities. We want them to be the best they can be and we will always fight hard as Nationals to make sure that regional communities get the infrastructure that they need and deserve.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>So just back to the Bypass, do you expect that business case to be released before the May Budget or the State Budget?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Well, again I’ve spoken to or messaged Jacinta Allan two or three times this week and we’ll be having those discussions. But, like I say, I don’t care what their political persuasion is; I work well with Ministers from right across Australia. Jacinta’s just one of them. And I’ve worked very well with her and that is why, because of the good relationship that we do have, that we’re able to put the National Freight Code in. When everybody thought they needed 10 rolls of toilet paper when they went to the toilet instead of just the usual one, when everybody was raiding supermarket shelves and there was a panic buy right across the country, we were very concerned that, because of lockdowns, because of border shutdowns that trucks weren’t going to be able to take those goods from the manufacturing and wholesale places to the supermarkets. But I worked well with many of them Labor Ministers and we were able to get that National Freight Code in place in hours – not days or weeks but hours. So I’ve got a good relationship with Minister Allan. I’ll continue to work with the Victorian Government, just like any other Government in Australia.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>What will the vaccine rollout look like for regional Victoria now that Pfizer’s the preferred vaccine for under 50s?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Well, we’re going to make sure that we do it at the same rate that we do metropolitan Australia. And yes, it’s not an easy exercise. This is, as Professor Brendan Murphy, who was the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Health Officer, now is, indeed, the Departmental Secretary for Health. As he said, Professor Brendan Murphy himself, this is the largest peacetime logistical exercise in Australia’s history. And given the fact that Australia’s got such a large – it’s a large geographical country, it was always going to be hard to get to every nook and cranny of the nation in the time and given the amount of doses that we had and do everything without flaw, without hiccup. So we’re working towards it. We’re working with the state public health departments, we’re working with the Premiers. I know the Prime Minister has said that he’ll have twice National Cabinet meetings per week if necessary, and that’s a good thing, because we want to work with states. We want to work with communities, with GPs, with pharmacists, to get this vaccine out and to get all Australians getting that jab, getting that second jab and protecting them. Thank you very much.</p> <p><strong>ENDS 12:43PM</strong></p> <h2 class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst"><strong>Media contacts: </strong></h2> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860<br /> Caitlin Donaldson, 0428 389 880</p> McCormack Transcript - Connect GV Presser Transcript - Rural Press Club of Victoria Address https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/speech/transcript-rural-press-club-victoria-address <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>1:03PM</strong></p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>I know there’s been a lot of said about road safety. We’ve got a $110 billion infrastructure rollout; $110 billion of infrastructure programs at the moment. And I’m proud to say that even though our road toll statistics are still far too high for particularly in our regional areas where the proportion of regional people dying on country roads is too high, it is coming down. Metropolitan road tolls are coming down. The trauma related to that obviously is being reduced. And as we work towards Vision Zero by, well, let’s hope it’s next year if not the year after, but generally the sort of target is 2050, we will make sure that we get better roads. We’ve got better cars. We also need better driver behaviour. But I’m proud to say that we’re spending $2 billion on a Road Safety Package at the moment in conjunction with the one and a half billion we’re spending on the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure.</p> <p>I know Kim O’Keefe, the Mayor of Greater Shepparton, she would know that there is probably more money washing around in Local Government than there has been in a long time, if ever. And we want to make sure that working in conjunction with councils, which is the heart of and very much the public face of delivery, then that is going to be so important in restoring and recovering from COVID-19. Getting those jobs on the ground, getting those community infrastructure projects built is going to make such a difference.</p> <p>And of course, with the budget coming up, we’ll revisit what we do as far as regional programs. We revisit what we’re doing as part of the infrastructure package. But it’s more than just making sure that we get the delivery done; it’s also about, as I say, creating those jobs in regional centres and making sure – and importantly it’s not just about the hi-vis on the ground and the excavators pushing dirt around; it’s also about the little sandwich shop down the road which is going to sell the egg and bacon rolls. It’s also about the accommodation place if some of those workers are coming from outside the region. We want local procurement, of course, and I’m proud to say that with the Inland Rail that is creating so much local procurement. And I was pleased that Victoria were the first state to sign up to the intergovernmental agreement for the Inland Rail. It will be a transformational project to get delivery between Melbourne and Brisbane within a 24-hour timeframe.</p> <p>They started to talk about it in the 1890s; we’re getting on and we’re building it now. And I’ll just give you one little snapshot as an example. The first of 13 sections of the Inland Rail has been completed between Narromine and Parkes. Now, it’s about 100 kilometres or so, $110 million of procurement for 99 local businesses. Now that is significant money. Whether they are a little ballast firm or a rock quarry that expanded by two or three people, it’s still money in their pockets. And certainly last year during COVID it made all the difference between some of those businesses staying open and some of them having to shut forever.</p> <p>And of course, with JobKeeper and with all the other arrangements that we made sure we put into place last year that kept the economy ticking along nicely. Now I appreciate that we couldn’t have kept JobKeeper going forever. But there are so many jobs in regional Australia at the moment. The Regional Australia Institute actually identifies 55,000 jobs going in regional Australia. As people from regional Australia will tell you, there’s so many jobs in hospitality, law firms, accountancy practices, abattoirs, fruit picking. Of course, we’re 90,000 backpackers short and that is creating difficulties, but we want to encourage as many Melbournians, Sydneysiders to come bush and to see what we have to offer.</p> <p>Hands up those who actually live in regional Australia. About 50 per cent of the room. You know, as do I, about how good the living is. You know, as do I, that you don’t have to sit in the traffic watching the brake lights for an hour to or from work because you’re seven minutes from anywhere. You’re in a place which is probably big enough in which to get a good cup of coffee but small enough to still care. And that’s what I love about regional Australia. And bear in mind, in March – and this is a significant fact – Victoria was the one state where regional housing values continued to rise at a faster pace than city counterparts. Regional Victorian values rose 2.6 per cent in the month compared with a 2.4 per cent rise across Melbourne.</p> <p>So real estate is holding up. In fact, it is almost holding up too well to the fact that it is actually difficult to get accommodation, rental properties certainly, anywhere in Australia. But regional Australia, the prices are good. And when real estate prices are reasonably solid, then the market is showing that there is confidence in the economy. Melbourne housing values have been recovering from a 11.1 per cent fall between 2017 and 2019 and a 5.6 per cent fall through the worst of the COVID downturn. Regional Australia is holding up, the economies are holding up. And even though there are lots and lots of jobs there, it is the place to be.</p> <p>And I appreciate some of you might have different views about the lockdowns and what they meant. And I appreciate that some of my Nationals colleagues were very perturbed at the fact that their farmers were required to wear face masks when they were many hundreds of kilometres from Melbourne just to feed cattle and to do all the sorts of things that farmers normally do and that created great angst and difficulty, even though they hadn’t had a COVID case for many, many months. But the important thing was that people needed to be assured that they were being kept safe. I’m not going to stand here and criticise Premiers or states. We’ve endeavoured as best we could and can through the National Cabinet process to make sure that we kept Australians safe and we will continue to do that.</p> <p>Now reporting on the February ABS data, the ABS has told us that the exodus from Melbourne increased by a factor of eight compared to the pre-lockdown period. So, many people are choosing a regional destination, not just to holiday at the moment but, indeed, to move and to live and to set up and to give their families, their kids, a better way of life, the sort of life that those of us who come from regional Australia know and know well. And it’s great. And I’ve got to say that people who have made that choice will not regret it.</p> <p>We will have as part of the budget a regionalisation/decentralisation package, I can assure you of that. And people sometimes say, “Well, what does regionalisation, what does decentralisation mean?” Now, I know that the Regional Australia Institute, which I mentioned before, have a Move to More campaign going at the moment where they’re encouraging people to move to country areas, move to more. And there is more – more to be had, more time to be spent with families and at the moment, with a building boom and with an infrastructure boom in regional Australia, regional Victoria, there’s no better place and no better time in which to do it.</p> <p>Now Mark Coulton, who is the Regional Services Minister amongst other things, Local Government, as Kim would know, officiated the other day at the RAI’s launch of a liveability tool kit. And this helps to identify population flows, job trends, liveability factors in the regions. The most important thing is that we get the health services right, the education services right because I know, as do you, that if we have the right number of doctors, we have the right number of health specialists and we have the right and good and choice of schools then people from Melbourne, from other metropolitan centres will look to those places as places to which to move.</p> <p>But the important thing, too, is that I’m really pleased and proud of the fact that we have put in place a rural medical school network across the Murray Darling. It was one of the things that I was focused on when I got into Parliament in 2010 and wanted to make it happen. And when Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister and said to me, “What would you like so far as a regional win first up,” that’s what I said. Because I identified, as I know Steph would as well, the importance of having doctors in the bush and not just doctors who have moved from the city but also, perhaps more importantly, doctors who may have done their training from start to finish in the bush. And they’re very hard to find because we just don’t have the capacity to have that provision of services from start to finish for the six or seven years it takes to become a specialist GP and particularly doing the unique work that is the case of a specialist general doctor in the regional areas of Australia.</p> <p>Now, making sure that we had that rural medical school network set up, what we’re doing is we’re building the infrastructure and what we’re doing is we’re getting the young people, particularly young people from regional Australia, and giving them the opportunity to do their training from start to finish. Those schools have been set up in Bendigo, in Dubbo, in Wagga Wagga and elsewhere. And we know that through Charles Sturt University, for instance – a great regional university, another of those regional universities. We know that around about three-quarters of people who do whatever course it might be who do their training in a university situation in a regional area, then stay in that regional area in which to work, following on from that. And there is good money to be made in regional areas. And generally they will come to a regional area, fall in love with the regional area, or fall in love with somebody from the regional area, and decide to stay.</p> <p>So that is the premise behind the Murray-Darling rural medical school network. And I’m pushing that. We’ve got the first interns at the moment doing the first of their years in a rural setting. And whilst it will take five or six or seven years to see the benefits of that, the other things that Mark Coulton as the Regional Health Minister is putting in place are going to make sure that we have the right number of doctors and the right medical services in the bush, because the first question that a lot of people ask when they’re moving or contemplating a move to a regional area is, “What are the hospitals like? What are the health services like? What are the schools like?” Of course, we work with our state counterparts to make sure that those things happen.</p> <p>Now, of course, water is a major thing for regional areas. Now, it wasn’t that long ago I established the National Water Grid Authority. It’s been going for 12 months. It’s headed up by Chris Lynch. It’s got people from every geographical area of Australia making sure that we get the right infrastructure in the right places. And I’m working with the states and territories because we can’t build dams or weirs or pipelines without that state help.</p> <p>I’d like to get a little bit more help from Victoria, but, you know what, we’ll work towards it. I’m very collegiate. I’m very bipartisan and I understand how important it is to have water, because if we’re going to grow agriculture to $100 billion by 2030, we have to add water. We have to make sure that we harvest the water where it falls, store it, have that capacity and make sure that we utilise it when we have the dry times.</p> <p>And only just this week we announced eight specialist resilience hubs for innovation, for adaptation, for adoption as far as drought resilience is concerned. Now, our capital investment in water has already seen $20 million towards the South West Loddon Rural Water Supply project. That was completed in April 2020 with more than 120,000 hectares of land now connected to the pipeline. That has been a game changer for that rural Victorian area. $20 million towards the Macalister Irrigation District Phase 1B Modernisation Project, $3 million towards the Sunraysia Modernisation Project No 2, and I know how much that has meant for Anne Webster and others. Perhaps not even so much Anne Webster but certainly her farmers in that area who tell me that it is just been a game changer.</p> <p>With other crucial projects already underway in Victoria, including the Western Irrigation Network project, $48.1 million; East Grampians Water Supply Project, $32 million; and the Mitiamo and District Reticulated Water Supply Project. It’s only $14.5 million but it could and will make such a difference to that area. And I know when I stood there with Damian Drum at that windswept footy oval and made that announcement during the last election campaign the farmers there who’d been waiting for it for up to decades were absolutely delighted.</p> <p>Now it’s an important issue, I appreciate, and we want to make sure that we build the right water infrastructure in the right places and we want to get on with it right now. That’s why at The Nationals Federal Conference just the other day we announced a new package of smaller projects – up to $20 million – for each state and territory jurisdiction. And I will work with the Victorian Government to make sure that happens. So I’ll be happy to take expressions of interest from anyone. I know Steph and others will be no doubt sort of lobbying for that to happen because we can do little projects of $200,000 or larger projects in the order of millions of dollars. But sometimes it’s not just the big dams, it’s the weirs and pipelines that make such a difference for those communities.</p> <p>Now while I’m talking water, let’s talk Murray Darling. We need to address the issue, of course, of the degradation of the Barmah Choke. Now it’s not about sending more water downstream, it’s not about a super pipe or major engineering works; it’s about managing existing requirements better. It’s about better optimisation of existing water. It’s about minimising overbank flows or hundreds of gigalitres lost. If we get it right we’ll see more water left upstream of the choke, possibly more water for the consumptive pool.</p> <p>It’s a difficult issue and there’s never any easy solutions with the comes to water. Everybody will have different views. But rest assured, I know that Keith Pitt, who has been down here several times making sure that he listens, making sure that the voices of Victorian communities are heard both on the production side and also on the environmental side and that we get the right balance. Murray-Darling has never been easy. Most people will tell you, most irrigators will tell you that upstream they either pinch the water and downstream they either waste the water or the other way around. It makes no difference, but every valley has a different view about how water should be managed. But we’ve got the Murray-Darling Basin plan. It’s not perfect, I appreciate. I used to represent Griffith where they burnt the draft of the Murray-Darling Basin plan back in 2010 and their passion has not subsided since.</p> <p>Of course, we want to make sure that this budget also identifies important things in rural and regional Victoria such as mental health. Now I know that that is a big issue for many rural communities and it has been very much borne out and fleshed out by what we’ve endured over the past 12 to 15 months with COVID. It has been such a trying time on people’s stresses and strains, on their bottom lines. And we want to make sure that as a country and as a nation and as a Government that we put the right measures in place to help those who need it the most. And there’s no shame in saying – in putting your hand up and saying that, “I’ve got a problem and that I need a bit of help.” We want to make sure that as a Federal Government we provide that support ready for those people particularly in rural areas who’ve done it very, very tough.</p> <p>I have to say that rural areas have also led the way through COVID-19 to make sure that we’ve built agriculture, to make sure that our resources industry is strong and to make sure that we’ve kept those jobs as best we can in place through JobKeeper and through other arrangements that we’ve put in to support our communities.</p> <p>Now I also do want to talk about the sort of planning that we’re doing for Murray Basin Freight Rail. Now we’ve provided an extra $5 million for the standardisation of the network in addition to the around $200.2 million that we’ve just put on the table to help with the Victorian Government. So the latest contribution is $200 million on top of the 240 that we put down previously. As Anne Webster has said when we announced this rescue package, the Australian Government is listening to the stakeholders and is investing in works to improve the reliability and efficiency of lines for this most important network.</p> <p>Now I know it’s been a bugbear not just for the journalists who’ve been on our case but certainly for those people in Maryborough or Ararat, Manangatang, Murrayville, Mildura, wherever you might happen to be or look at in that particular area, it has been a real issue and we want to make sure that we’ve got the right rail network to support those wheat farmers, those grain producers and to make sure that we get the system right. It’s been difficult because we haven’t had I suppose the right bipartisanship with our state colleagues, but, rest assured, they now know with the additional money that we’ve put on the table that we are serious.</p> <p>Now, to do the line as some would like us to have it done, well, that’s going to cost more than a billion dollars. Well, if that’s the case, we will certainly look to that because over the years we’ve had a rolling infrastructure package and program. We’ve made sure that once we get something done we look at either the next phase of that particular project or the next road, whether it’s the Princes Highway, whatever the case might be and we’re making sure that we put the right infrastructure in place.</p> <p>When I became the infrastructure Minister we had a $50 billion infrastructure pipeline of investment. It’s now $110 billion. It’s for rail, it’s for road, it’s for airports, it’s for seaports, it’s for building that community infrastructure, whether it’s getting a lick of paint to the town hall or the Shepparton Art Museum right through to building Sydney’s second airport, Western Sydney, Western Sydney’s first airport. Building the Inland Rail, building dams, major dams, such as Rookwood. We’re about to turn the first sod of the Rookwood Weir, which is in Michelle Landry’s electorate up near Capricornia up near Rockhampton and Ken O’Dowd’s electorate of Flynn –$176.1 million we’ve put on the table for that and we want to make sure that we’ve got the right infrastructure in place to support our economy. There’s never been a more important time to support the economy than right now.</p> <p>I do want to thank each and every one of you for having the patience through COVID. It has been a trying time for us all. It’s been a trying time when people have been in lockdown. It’s been a trying time exercising social distancing, wearing face masks, being told that you’ve got to stay indoors for 23 out of 24 hours, enduring endless Zoom meetings. But, as a nation we’ve done remarkably well. We’ve done exceedingly well. We’ve been the envy of the world when it comes to how we’ve addressed COVID.</p> <p>Yes, while it’s been very sad that 910 people have lost loved ones, the fact remains when you compare us to any other nation, whether it’s a Western democracy or any other nation, we’ve done exceedingly well. And we’ve grown the economy at the same time. Agriculture, resources, we’ve done as best we can in the circumstances provided. Of course, we’ve also tried to promote our aviation industry own though it was hit first and hit hardest through COVID. I know that we’ve got that half price aviation airline ticket measures in place. Some people have questioned why those particular destinations and, well, as we’ve done with every other program, we’ve looked at it, we’ve tweaked it, we’re happy to review it and we will do that. But the destinations chosen were done because they were the destinations normally awash with international travellers. And of course, with no international travel possible at the moment apart from returning travellers coming back home, it’s been very, very difficult for the aviation and tourism industries alike.</p> <p>Of course we want to make sure that people get that experience to be able to holiday at home. And I know that’s why we’ve put in place a $1.2 billion measure of goods and incentives to get people to holiday, indeed, in a regional area, experience a bit of Australia. And Josh Landis, who’s admittedly from the clubs industry, pulled me up at the airport in Sydney today and he said, “clubs in regional areas are actually booming”. He said, “we’ve never seen so much activity in some of those clubs”. I appreciate that that doesn’t apply to every single club, but the fact that you’ve got people, industry spokespeople such as that, extolling the virtues of not just how good it is and not just how many people are actually experiencing what it’s like to actually visit a region but, indeed, taking advantage of the programs that the federal and, to their credit, State Governments are putting in place. It’s good to hear.</p> <p>Look, I might leave it at that. I’m happy to take any questions so long as my voice holds out. And I do apologise for the bit of a spill, but it’s better to have a spill at the Rural Press Club than in the party room.</p> <p><strong>ENDS 1:26PM</strong></p> <h2 class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst"><strong>Media contacts: </strong></h2> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle">Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860<br /> Caitlin Donaldson, 0428 389 880</p> McCormack Transcript - Rural Press Club of Victoria Address DPM address to the Rural Press Club, Victoria https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/dpm-address-rural-press-club-victoria <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Thank you, James. Andrew Miller, Stock and Land. I was heartened by hearing you talking about Murray Basin Rail project. Effectively, the State Government's walked away from it. They said, Senator Allen said “we’ll have to wait for another Government before we fund any further upgrades". Does this mean, in fact, that you are looking at further standardisation of Sea Lake and Manangatang but also standardisation for the line past Ballarat from Maryborough to Gheringhap? Obviously, it's of great interest to many grain growers in the region.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Yeah, sure. And, as I said, it would cost a billion dollars, probably about $1.2, to do it with every one of those spurs, every one of those rail corridors that ultimately my good friend Anne Webster and many farmers would like. But we've put $240.2 million on the table. We've just added another $200 million to that five million, of which is for planning and for those sorts of things to happen. We've asked the State Government Jacinta Allan, to partner up, to pull out, write a check for the same amount so that we can get on with that important work; so that we can get the right planning done, get the right business case done. We know it's going to work. We know it's got to work. We know it's got to happen. But given the fact that there is a reluctance by the Victorian State Government and given the fact that the Victorian State Government has said that you might need to get another Government, well, that's a sure sign to the voters of what to do at the next election which I believe is in November next year.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Thank you so much. Good afternoon. Kim O'Keeffe, the Mayor of Greater Shepparton and Chair of Regional Cities Victoria. Regional Cities Victoria has 10 local - sorry, 10 mayors and 10 CEOs that sit on that committee. So it's great to be here today. Thank you so much for that presentation. It's very exciting to see the focus on regional Victoria and obviously post-COVID and also bushfires that we've had to deal with this last 12 months. My question to you is how will the Government look to work with regional councils in a recovery effort post-COVID and the bushfires? Thank you.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Thanks for that. Well, with the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, we have put that on the top of a 100 per cent top-up to the Roads to Recovery. So last July we doubled the Roads to Recovery funding and then a couple of months later we put in place that Local Roads and Community Infrastructure. So there's $1.5 billion for the 537 councils across Australia. Pleasingly, all 537 councils have come on board and given us their projects, given us their ideas of where they're going to spend that money.</p> <p>And, look, I'm a regional member. I understand full well just how local councils can utilise that money when it's direct funded from the Federal Government straight to their works, straight to their projects, straight to their programs. It doesn't have to go through state bureaucracies. It doesn't get pruned off by state bureaucrats. It goes direct and every cent that goes out of the Federal Government goes into a project in the local area. It's not just keeping local workers, it's also local procurements, local small businesses. So that's the whole idea of it.</p> <p>I also want to make sure that when we do put in infrastructure money in place, I've put in measures to ensure that money's just not going to tier 1 companies.  It's also going to those local small businesses. And that's why I'm so proud of the Inland Rail project, that as identified that Parkes Narromine section, you know, $110 million, you know, benefitting 99 small businesses. That's the sort of infrastructure rollout that is going to help those local areas, those communities.</p> <p>I come from local community, albeit it's Wagga Wagga, it's a city of around 70,000. So it's, you know, it's a large community which has always got, you know, safety in numbers, so to speak. But I want to make sure it's not just the 70,000 population towns, it's the smaller towns, it's the towns that have got whether 500 or 5,000 people, that they benefit too from the infrastructure rollout. And as the Nationals leader and as somebody who cares, is very passionate about regional Australia, that's what my focus is on and going to be, this budget.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Thank you. Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times. Just keeping on the theme of Inland Rail, obviously it's one of the landmark projects for this Government and, indeed for the National Party. However, we are in a situation where, in Victoria, there's parts of that line that are still plagued with mud holes. In New South Wales there's ongoing issues with deciding the route in terms of dealing with landholders. In Queensland, the line doesn't go all the way to the port of Brisbane as it is at the moment.</p> <p>Some have criticised it as having the potential to end up just being a white elephant and really not living up to its potential. Given it's already running over budget, what are you doing to actually keep this on track and make sure it can be as good as once hoped?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>I'm working so hard on this project, I'm making myself hoarse, Natalie. Now, I don't want to live in a banana republic.  What I mean by "banana", build absolutely nothing, anywhere near anything.  Some Governments, they have that philosophy. They just kick everything into the long grass. I know when I became the Infrastructure Minister, we had an Inland Rail project and, yes, it had an amount of money attached to it, around about $9.2 billion. That was done on a desktop analysis without all the intricate planning and engineering scopes that needed to be done.</p> <p>So that's why it has now got a bigger price tag on it. But that bigger price tag comes with the added benefit of making sure that Australian companies are benefitting from that additional money.  We're using Australian steel, and I know there's a lot of talk about Whyalla at the moment. But Australian steel, Australian workers, Australian know-how, Australian engineering, Australian signalling. I'm proud of the Inland Rail but when I took over, we didn't have any of the intergovernmental agreements signed up. And I can remember sitting in a coffee shop with Jacinta Allan signing the Victorian one.</p> <p>Not an easy task for a National Party Federal Minister to convince a Labor State Minister that this was a project needing to be done. But I did that. I also did it with John Barilaro in New South Wales and did it with Mark Bailey in Queensland. So two out of the three states were Labor states. They understood the benefits that Inland Rail would bring. They understood just how this was going to benefit the nation.</p> <p>And we did talk about these things and we can procrastinate about these things, but I'm getting on and I'm actually building. Yes, when you have a 1,700-kilometre corridor of commerce, which the Inland Rail is, it is going to impact people's properties and lives. There's no questioning the fact it's going to go through hundreds of people's properties. But we'll work with them.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">We've set up community consultative committees and as we narrow the actual preferred route from a five, six kilometre stretch into a more 60 metre corridor, that eliminates many of those farmers whose properties may then not be impacted. Yes, there still will be farmers who will be impacted but, you know, if we have had this theory when we were building the Hume Freeway well, we never would have had that dual lane from Sydney to Melbourne all the way, which has saved people's lives. </p> <p>I can remember driving to the football grand final in Sydney, admittedly it's probably not the football you like here. Hey, I follow Hawthorn too. But you know in 1982 – and the Hume Highway was a goat track and it was unsafe.  These days, four-lane, divided all the way. Beautiful road. It saves people's lives. The Inland Rail, it will also transform the way we do things, the way we move freight.  And we'll get a lot of trucks off the road. So that's good for the environment. That's good for the roads. That's good for our logistical task and we're getting on with the job, we're building it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>David Campbell from Agribusiness Freelance. Thank you for your speech, Deputy Prime Minister, and commiserations on dealing with man flu; you're holding up very well. I'm, for one of my past sins, speaking as a past non-executive director of Annual Health Australia and it's been interesting watching in the pandemic how reassuring it is for agriculture that we have very good plans in place for both animal and plant industries to deal with disease outbreaks and biosecurity.</p> <p>And so biosecurity has become something that's become much more publicly aware, I think, through the pandemic. A number of friends of mine here in Melbourne were shocked to learn last year that we got through an outbreak of avian flu in Victoria. We had to euthanase 60,000 birds and I said to them we really couldn't do that with people. But, you know, that was done very well, and managed extremely well between federal and state authorities and the industry involved.</p> <p>Biosecurity remains an issue for rural industries, as you know. How do you plan on building on this awareness now to really take this further? There's been a lot of work in the last few years – the Biosecurity Act in 2015. But how do you see this going forward now in building on that pace because it remains one of the key issues and threats to our industries?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Yes, look, it does and thank you, Dave. I actually turned the first sod of the Mickleham facility, the new biosecurity facility. I suppose it's not that new anymore. Biosecurity for our animal and plant health is every bit as important as closing the borders was down for our human health, I've got to tell you. And David Littleproud, the Agriculture Minister, and I had a very, very long chat yesterday about what we need to do as far as this year's budget, as far as biosecurity and upping the ante when it comes to that, you can never spend enough money on biosecurity, on making sure that we've got the right number of people, got the right provisions in place at our ports and elsewhere.  And you only have to watch some of those shows on television where people try to smuggle in pork in their handbags and my god you know, those people should be whacked heavily and hard with fines and being sent straight back home. Because, you know, any incursion, whether it's Asian bean incursion, foot and mouth disease, fire blight in our apples, could be disastrous, not just for our, you know, that particular relevant sector of industry but, indeed, agriculture per se.</p> <p>And we need to make sure that we've got the right initiatives in place and we've also got the right –you know, that people are prepared to act as far as making sure that the states also do their fair share. I can remember when I was a kid, I used to drive to the Murrumbidgee irrigation area and you'd go in there and there would be inspectors who'd stop you, check your car for fruit.  That doesn't happen anymore. And I think sometimes - I think actually the states have dropped the ball largely, particularly Labor states, when it comes to making sure that their irrigation areas are, you know, free of fruit fly and the rest.</p> <p>And I think it's a real disappointment. But rest assured, as I said yesterday, David Littleproud and I had a very long chat about biosecurity. I'm hoping that we'll see some good measures in the budget.  I know this is a big issue for Darren Chester as well, who's raised it with me. We've spoken about it often, as has Damian Drum and Anne Webster and other – and Steph, you know, she talks to me often about just how important biosecurity is.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Thanks, Minister. Matt Dalgleish from Thomas Elder Markets. Recently I was up in a webinar, or a session at Longreach in Queensland and connectivity and the NBN was a hot topic for them there, as it is in lots of regional Australia. I know that this morning on social media the Elon Musk rollout of Starlink is progressing now, and obviously by what they're saying there, they're expecting really good connectivity to regional Australia. Is it time for regional communities to forget about the NBN and leave the technology to the private sector now and just kind of look to see what's happening there or do we still have faith that the NBN will be able to get the right kind of connectivity in the inland bush.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>No and yes. Now, if I was in Question Time that's how I'd probably answer that but I'll be nice to you Matt. Look, we're not going to desert NBN. It's a huge investment. It's an investment that I think paid dividends last year. And look, when we took over the Government in 2013 – and you'll always hear politicians playing the blame game and I don't want to be seen to be playing the blame game – but the NBN was a mess and it was – you know, we tried as best we could to get a mix of technologies to get the right service, to get the right connectivity right across the nation.</p> <p>And I've got to say, successive Ministers, Paul Fletcher, and Mark Coulton being the latest, have done a good job in making sure that we had that connectivity. Yes, you know, we've even invested and we've funded 1,200 mobile blackspot towers and built 900 of them, and we're getting that mobile technology out which, of course, helps to back all the rest as well. We will make sure that obviously as technologies change and as better inventions come online that we continue to invest in that as well.</p> <p>Cybersecurity is also going to be a huge thing, not just getting the right connectivity but making sure that the system is safe as, you know, our good friends in other countries try to sometimes infiltrate our Local Governments, our businesses and, indeed, the Federal sphere.  We need to make sure that we've got the right cybersecurity measures in place as well, and we'll do that. But, as I said, last year, when people were working from home like never before, the system held up and we did very well. It's not to say we can't do more in the future. It's not to say we won't continue to fund it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>I'll keep it very brief. You're probably aware of the situation with Van Dairies in Tasmania and the former CEO has called it a regulatory failure given the fact there are troubles down there.  Is there enough rigorous scrutiny of foreign investment to ensure promises made by overseas companies are carried out. And there is an example there of what has been described as regulatory failure and the failure of the investor to carry out and to keep to the promises he made when that investment was approved by the FIRB?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>That footage was very alarming and disturbing and no one likes to see animals being mistreated, whether it's a dairy situation, whether it's indeed an abattoir. You know, animals need to be treated properly and humanely, and that footage was very alarming and disturbing. I'm very proud of what we've done as far as foreign investment is concerned since we took back Government in 2013.</p> <p>Just prior to us actually taking back Government in 2013, you could have bought $252 million worth of farmland, worth of agribusiness and not even raised a murmur with Foreign Investment Review Board. That was the trigger. It was $248 million. Went up to $252 million just after we took Government. Labor's plan was to make it a billion dollars before it triggered the Foreign Investment Review Board to review any foreign potential acquisition.</p> <p>Well, we changed that so that it was $15 million for accumulated farmland and $55 million for agribusiness. So some would argue that that's still too high. I think it strikes the right balance because we need foreign investment. We need foreign capital. It's made the nation what it is, and it's certainly provided agriculture with the right impetus. But, as you say, you know, we need to obviously keep and be mindful of when foreign investors do come in and buy farmland, buy agribusinesses, buy dairies, that they do the right thing, not just by domestic suppliers, not just by our country but, indeed, you know, business practices that are generally accepted to be right and proper in this country. Yes, of course they do need to have that oversight and, thankfully, their nefarious activities were exposed.</p> <h2>Media contacts:</h2> <p>Dean Shachar - 0418 202 860</p> <p>Caitlin Donaldson - 0428 389 880</p> McCormack DPM address to the Rural Press Club, Victoria $8 million federal funding for Dookie Drought Hub https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/littleproud/media-release/8-million-federal-funding-dookie-drought-hub <ul> <li>Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub launches in Dookie</li> <li>This has been made possible by an $8 million investment from the Federal Government, and $22 million contribution from Hub members</li> <li>The University of Melbourne to lead transformational drought resilience delivery</li> <li>This is one of eight hubs to be established around the country through the Federal Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund</li> </ul> <p>A new Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, to be based Dookie, is set to transform the way Victorian farmers and communities prepare for and respond to drought.</p> <p>Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said the Hub would oversee the co-design and delivery of innovative projects and practices aimed at boosting drought resilience and agricultural productivity.</p> <p>“This Victorian Hub will be based at the University of Melbourne’s regional campus in Dookie, north-east of Shepparton, with five nodes in Birchip, Mulwala, Warragul, Inverleigh and Mildura,” Mr Drum said.</p> <p>“The nodes will be led by Birchip Cropping Group, Riverine Plains, Food and Fibre Gippsland, Southern Farming Systems, and Mallee Regional Innovation Centre.”</p> <p>Mr Drum, who announced the $8 million of federal funding this morning alongside University of Melbourne representatives, said the Hub and its nodes would engage directly with farmers, traditional owners, and agribusinesses to take on the challenges of drought.</p> <p>“The Victorian Hub and each node operate as a shopfront for farmers to access innovative technologies and practices that will benefit the whole Victorian agriculture sector with people on the ground,” Mr Drum said.</p> <p>“Victoria was hit hard by the recent Australia-wide drought, which took a heavy toll on individual household income, as well as entire industries and communities.</p> <p>“Getting regional people working together to ensure research and development is useful for Victorians is a vital step towards successful drought management in our communities.</p> <p>Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the Victorian Hub was one of eight across the country. All have been established to support development and uptake of innovative technologies and practices that improve drought resilience.</p> <p>“Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs have come about through the forward-thinking Future Drought Fund – a long term, sustained investment of $100 million each year to build drought preparedness,” Mr Littleproud said.</p> <p>“Drought is a natural part of the Australian landscape and these hubs will play a critical role in helping farmers and agricultural communities to be better prepared.”</p> <p>Dookie Hub Co-Director Professor Tim Reeves, from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, said this investment would make a real difference to how we deal with future droughts on farms, in the management of our environment, and in our communities.</p> <p>“This hub brings together a great team focused on delivering real impacts for the agri-food sector in Victoria, in terms of enhanced drought resilience and greater adaptation to our changing climate,” Professor Reeves said.</p> <p>“A feature of this hub is the unprecedented co-operation between the partners to co-design and co-govern innovative approaches to future drought resilience.</p> <p>“It bodes well for the team to make a real difference to our regional industries and communities.’’</p> <h2><strong>Fast facts</strong></h2> <ul> <li>This is one of eight Hubs to be established around the country through the Federal Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund;</li> <li>The Hubs are the centrepiece of the Federal Government’s $86 million Future Drought Fund Research and Adoption Program;</li> <li>They will become flagship precincts for agricultural innovation;</li> <li>The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will lead the co-ordination of the Hubs, supporting them to become interconnected agricultural innovation precincts;</li> <li>Find out more <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/future-drought-fund/research-adoption-program">here</a>.</li> </ul> Littleproud $8 million federal funding for Dookie Drought Hub Playspace brings new joy to families at Wittunga Botanic Garden https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/playspace-brings-new-joy-families-wittunga-botanic-garden <p>Families can now delight in an exciting new nature-themed playspace in Blackwood’s Wittunga Botanic Garden, which has officially opened. <br />     <br /> South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon David Speirs MP, attended the official opening, which saw many locals and visitors enjoy the new playspace for the very first time. </p> <p>Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said construction of the playground is funded under the Adelaide City Deal.</p> <p>“This is a great example of how the City Deal is supporting Adelaide’s cultural and tourism economy, and providing a safe, fun environment for families to spend time together,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p>“Locals can also enjoy other works to the Wittunga Botanic Garden funded through the City Deal, including improvements to the lake’s beach, a popular splash play area for children, plus an accessible lake-viewing platform and trail around the lake’s perimeter.” <br />     <br /> Minister Speirs said children will have fun as they learn about nature and biodiversity through play and exploration. <br />     <br /> “The playspace provides experiences for children that will naturally convert into educational learning opportunities – whether it’s through the bespoke climbing frames that represent a protea, bottlebrush and nut, the ribbed musical frog or the many other immersive play areas,” Minister Speirs said. </p> <p>“The design includes 500 new plants which showcase the similarities between flora found in Australia and South Africa – neighbouring countries when Gondwanaland was one huge landmass.” <br />     <br /> Federal Member for Boothby Nicolle Flint said the new accessible playground embraces the botanical world and celebrates Aboriginal culture, and was designed in collaboration with students from the local Blackwood Primary School.</p> <p>“The new playspace is a marvellous destination within the garden where families can enjoy our local environment, and rare plants and trees in the Wittunga Gardens, and spend time with one another and nurture their physical and mental wellbeing,” Ms Flint said. </p> <p>“Around 40 jobs were also supported during construction, at a time our state needed them most.</p> <p>“These are exactly the sort of benefits the City Deal is all about, and why the Morrison and Marshall governments continue to invest in and deliver projects that build on our beautiful city’s strengths to enhance liveability, create jobs and secure a stronger economic future.” </p> <p>The new playground includes:</p> <ul> <li>Flower and nut cubbies with sliding and climbing opportunities, as well as great views over the garden. </li> <li>A dry billabong providing a rich natural environment with reeds, rocks and pebbles that allow children to develop gross motor skills through loose parts play. The reeds in the billabong will connect to Kaurna heritage, as the Kaurna meaning of Wittunga comes from a reference to reeds.</li> <li>Frog Island, where visitors can experiment with music through a ribbed frog.</li> <li>An in-ground wheelchair trampoline, which will delight children with accessibility needs.</li> <li>A basket swing, strap and toddler swings.</li> <li>A super-sized park bench for the grown-ups.</li> <li>The log scramble, to help hone children’s gross motor skills.</li> <li>A rock mound with play tunnel and path access over the tunnel for elevated views across the garden.</li> <li>A dedicated lawn to provide kick-about play opportunities. </li> <li>Accessible picnic setting and pod decks for seating.</li> </ul> <p>The Australian Government fully funded the $400,000 playground, on top of $350,000 in funding to deliver the previously completed landscaping, lakeside walking trail and beach and the planting of 500 native and South African plants.</p> <p>The Wittunga Botanic Garden is open daily from 8.30am to 5pm and entry is free. </p> <p>To find out more about Wittunga Botanic Garden, please visit: <a href="https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/wittunga-botanic-garden">www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/wittunga-botanic-garden</a>.</p> <p>For more information on the Adelaide City Deal, please visit:<br /> <a href="www.infrastructure.gov.au/cities/city-deals/adelaide">www.infrastructure.gov.au/cities/city-deals/adelaide</a>. </p> <h2>Media contact:</h2> <p>Minister Fletcher: Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a><br /> Minister Speirs: Ryan Smith | 0466 498 060 | <a href="mailto:ryan.smith@sa.gov.au">ryan.smith@sa.gov.au</a>   </p> Fletcher Playspace brings new joy to families at Wittunga Botanic Garden Heavy vehicle health check to kick off in May https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/heavy-vehicle-health-check-kick-may <p>The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is urging heavy vehicle operators to use their Daily Safety Checklist, ahead of the second major health check of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said heavy vehicle operators should take a few minutes before each trip to check basic safety items on their vehicle.</p> <p>"A quick visual inspection can identify any issues and give you peace of mind that the vehicle is safe and ready for the journey,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>"It is a series of simple steps that aligned with the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual that every driver should undertake daily.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said this was an important initiative for Australia’s heavy vehicle operators to take part in.</p> <p>"From next month the NHVR will undertake the second National Roadworthiness Survey, which will check the mechanical health of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said.</p> <p>"Authorised officers from the NHVR and partner agencies across Australia will conduct a mechanical inspection of 8,000 heavy vehicles including trucks, buses and other special purpose vehicles.”</p> <p>NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the first survey conducted in 2016 was the largest snapshot of the health of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet ever undertaken.</p> <p>"Each vehicle will receive a comprehensive visual and mechanical inspection and requires the use of specialised equipment,” Mr Petroccitto said.</p> <p>"Inspections can take 45 minutes on average. It is usually a shorter period for compliant vehicles and longer for non-compliant vehicles.</p> <p>"We understand the importance of keeping the heavy vehicle supply chain moving and where possible officers will ensure minimal disruption occurs.”</p> <p>All heavy vehicle inspections will be inspected using the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual.</p> <p>For more information on Daily Safety Checklist visit <a href="http://www.nhvr.gov.au/dailycheck">www.nhvr.gov.au/dailycheck</a>.</p> <h2>Media Contacts:</h2> <p>Deputy Prime Minister – Dean Shachar 0418 202 860 | Caitlin Donaldson 0428 389 880</p> <p>Assistant Minister Buchholz – Scott O’Connell 0413 424 384</p> <p>NHVR – Emily Griffiths 0412 360 359</p> McCormack Heavy vehicle health check to kick off in May Heavy vehicle health check to kick off in May https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/buchholz/media-release/heavy-vehicle-health-check-kick-may <p>The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is urging heavy vehicle operators to use their Daily Safety Checklist, ahead of the second major health check of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said heavy vehicle operators should take a few minutes before each trip to check basic safety items on their vehicle.</p> <p>"A quick visual inspection can identify any issues and give you peace of mind that the vehicle is safe and ready for the journey,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>"It is a series of simple steps that aligned with the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual that every driver should undertake daily.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said this was an important initiative for Australia’s heavy vehicle operators to take part in.</p> <p>"From next month the NHVR will undertake the second National Roadworthiness Survey, which will check the mechanical health of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said.</p> <p>"Authorised officers from the NHVR and partner agencies across Australia will conduct a mechanical inspection of 8,000 heavy vehicles including trucks, buses and other special purpose vehicles.”</p> <p>NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the first survey conducted in 2016 was the largest snapshot of the health of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet ever undertaken.</p> <p>"Each vehicle will receive a comprehensive visual and mechanical inspection and requires the use of specialised equipment,” Mr Petroccitto said.</p> <p>"Inspections can take 45 minutes on average. It is usually a shorter period for compliant vehicles and longer for non-compliant vehicles.</p> <p>"We understand the importance of keeping the heavy vehicle supply chain moving and where possible officers will ensure minimal disruption occurs.”</p> <p>All heavy vehicle inspections will be inspected using the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual.</p> <p>For more information on Daily Safety Checklist visit <a href="http://www.nhvr.gov.au/dailycheck">www.nhvr.gov.au/dailycheck</a>.</p> <h2>Media Contacts:</h2> <p>Deputy Prime Minister – Dean Shachar 0418 202 860 | Caitlin Donaldson 0428 389 880</p> <p>Assistant Minister Buchholz – Scott O’Connell 0413 424 384</p> <p>NHVR – Emily Griffiths 0412 360 359</p> Buchholz Heavy vehicle health check to kick off in May Australia Post Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/australia-post-chief-executive-officer-and-managing-director <p>The Government welcomes the appointment of Mr Paul Graham as the new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO) of Australia Post. The Australia Post Board has selected Mr Graham as the CEO of Australia Post following a global search.</p> <p>Mr Graham currently holds the position of Chief Supply Chain and Technology Officer for the Woolworths Group and his experience and leadership match strongly with Australia Post’s strategic objectives. Mr Graham has significant experience in leading complex and large-scale businesses with supply chain, logistics and innovation at their core. In his role at Woolworths Group he led a significant transformation process and a team of 12,000 people.</p> <p>Previously, Mr Graham held the position of Global Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Europe at Deutsche Post DHL (EXEL), with his responsibilities spanning 65 countries and 150,000 people.</p> <p>Shareholder Ministers for Australia Post, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP and Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, welcomed the appointment of Mr Graham.</p> <p>“We trust Mr Graham will provide strong direction and leadership as Australia Post continues to deliver record numbers of parcels, even with border closures and ongoing logistical challenges,” Minister Fletcher and Minister Birmingham said.</p> <p>“His experience in building global logistics operations will also prove invaluable to local exporters, as Australia Post continues to invest in supply chains that connect Australian businesses to customers in new markets around the world. </p> <p>“We would also like to thank Ms Christine Holgate once again for her service to Australia Post.” </p> <p>Mr Graham will commence in the role by September 2021. Mr Rodney Boys will continue to act as interim CEO until Mr Graham takes up his new position.</p> <p><strong>Media contact:</strong></p> <p><strong>Minister Birmingham:</strong></p> <p>Benn Ayre | 0428 342 325 | <a href="mailto:benn.ayre@finance.gov.au">benn.ayre@finance.gov.au</a></p> <p><strong>Minister Fletcher:</strong></p> <p>Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a></p> <p>Christine Byllaardt | 0409 433 357 | <a href="mailto:Christine.VandenByllaardt@communications.gov.au">Christine.VandenByllaardt@communications.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Australia Post Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director A drought resilience adoption and innovation hub for Southern New South Wales https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/drought-resilience-adoption-and-innovation-hub-southern-new-south-wales <ul> <li>A Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub launches in Southern New South Wales in Wagga Wagga</li> <li>Charles Sturt University to drive the update of new drought resilience technologies and practices, and build collaboration with stakeholders across the region</li> <li>An $8 million Australian Government investment, with $11.9 million contribution from Hub members</li> <li>This is one of eight hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> </ul> <p>Southern New South Wales farmers’ and communities’ preparedness and response to drought will be transformed with the opening of a Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub for their region.</p> <p>Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Southern New South Wales Hub is one of eight across the country to be established that will support development and uptake of innovative technologies and practices that improve drought resilience.</p> <p>The Hub lead, Charles Sturt University, will also oversee the co-design with farmers and communities of innovative projects to ensure they deliver what is needed in the region.</p> <p>“Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs have come about through the forward-thinking Future Drought Fund – a long term, sustained investment of $100 million each year to build drought preparedness,” Minister Littleproud said.</p> <p>“The Southern New South Wales Hub will be a shopfront for farmers to access innovative technologies and practices that enable them to be more prepared and resilient to drought.</p> <p>“The Hub will be a ‘hub and spoke’ model with resources, including staff and programs spread throughout Southern New South Wales to capitalise on the members skills, assets and networks to generate drought resilience outcomes in areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community building, regional development and environment.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Southern New South Wales Hub would be headquartered at Charles Sturt University AgriPark, Wagga Wagga campus.</p> <p>“Drought can hit all enterprises in the region, with the powerhouse industries of livestock, wool, cropping, rice, cotton, perennial horticulture (including viticulture) all impacted,” Deputy Prime Minister McCormack said.</p> <p>“The region is a significant contributor to our nation’s economy, with agriculture supporting thousands of jobs and many local communities.</p> <p>“Farm production in the Riverina alone was worth $2.5 billion in 2018-19, accounting for 21 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production for the State.”</p> <p>The Southern New South Wales Hub, the result of a competitive grant process, will support farmers and communities from Broken Hill to Cobar, the Macquarie catchment to the Hawkesbury, and all the way to the Victorian and South Australian state borders.</p> <p>The Hub will bring together organisations like Farming Systems Group Alliance, Local Land Services, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, local Universities and the First National Governance Circle to work with farmers and communities.</p> <p>The Farming Systems Groups Alliance is represented by Farmlink and include Central West Farming Systems, FarmLink Research Ltd, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee, Riverine Plains and Southern Growers and over 3,500 farmer members.</p> <h2>Fast Facts:</h2> <ul> <li>This is one of eight Hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> <li>The Hubs are the centerpiece of the Australian Government’s $86 million Future Drought Fund Research and Adoption Program.</li> <li>They will become flagship precincts for agricultural innovation.</li> <li>The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will lead the</li> <li>co-ordination of the Hubs, supporting them to become interconnected agricultural innovation precincts.</li> </ul> McCormack A drought resilience adoption and innovation hub for Southern New South Wales New Paynes Crossing Bridge delivers safer journeys https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/new-paynes-crossing-bridge-delivers-safer-journeys <p>Safer, more reliable and efficient journeys are being delivered between Cessnock and Singleton under a $2.44 million project to replace an old single-lane timber bridge on Paynes Crossing Road with a dual-lane concrete structure.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project was a great example of all three tiers of Government working together to deliver for the local community, with $667,000 from the Federal Government’s Bridges Renewal Program, $668,300 from the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads Program, and the Cessnock and Singleton Councils contributing the remainder.</p> <p>“The replacement bridge almost 12 kilometres north of Wollombi is on an improved alignment and is three metres higher than the old deck to better meet modern safety standards and cope with major storm events as we’ve recently seen,” Mr McCormack said.</p> <p>“The new dual-lane bridge will not only provide a safer crossing for transporters of livestock and other agricultural products, but will also reduce councils’ maintenance costs as it won’t require the same level of upkeep as the 72-year old bridge.”</p> <p>Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the NSW Nationals in Government are delivering projects that help build a safer, stronger regional NSW.</p> <p>“The old bridge had a six-tonne load limit in place, meaning fire tankers filled with water weren’t able to use it. This new bridge has an open load limit, providing fire crews more reliable and safe access to local communities in times of need and natural disaster,” Mr Toole said.</p> <p>“It’s also going to allow for a more reliable movement of freight. With the amount of freight moved across NSW expected to increase 12 percent by 2036, we are investing in infrastructure that makes a real difference for generations to come.</p> <p>“Through our $543 million Fixing Country Roads program, projects like these have unlocked regional job opportunities in construction, while providing upgraded freight routes to save time and deliver smoother, safer and more efficient bridges and roads.</p> <p>“There are also important safety benefits with all-weather access, better road alignments to the new bridge which has been built to modern standards with wider lane widths.</p> <p>“On top of delivering a more reliable crossing for freight operators in times of heavy rain, the project has also supported 20 jobs in the local community through the construction phase.”</p> <p>Cessnock City Mayor Councillor Bob Pynsent welcomed the completion of works, calling it a win for locals and tourists.</p> <p>“As a result of us working together with our neighbours we’ve provided the community with vital new infrastructure that better serves their needs. The new bridge is three metres higher than the old structure, has two lanes, a longer life span, and the improved alignment makes it safer for drivers. It will benefit locals and visitors who frequent the area,” he said.</p> <p>“Flooding of the old structure was a genuine concern for residents making it impassable during heavy rain events. The new structure is three metres higher offering more resilience during weather events,” he added.</p> <p>Singleton Mayor Councillor Sue Moore said the structure’s higher load limit is also of considerable benefit.</p> <p>“The old bridge was load limited restricting the movement of freight in this area. Importantly, the new bridge means the local RFS tankers can now cross the bridge and provide adequate protection to locals, which is fantastic news,” she said.</p> McCormack New Paynes Crossing Bridge delivers safer journeys A drought resilience adoption and innovation hub for Southern New South Wales https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/littleproud/media-release/drought-resilience-adoption-and-innovation-hub-southern-new-south-wales <ul> <li>A Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub launches in Southern New South Wales in Wagga Wagga</li> <li>Charles Sturt University to drive the update of new drought resilience technologies and practices, and build collaboration with stakeholders across the region</li> <li>An $8 million Australian Government investment, with $11.9 million contribution from Hub members</li> <li>This is one of eight hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> </ul> <p>Southern New South Wales farmers’ and communities’ preparedness and response to drought will be transformed with the opening of a Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub for their region.</p> <p>Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Southern New South Wales Hub is one of eight across the country to be established that will support development and uptake of innovative technologies and practices that improve drought resilience.</p> <p>The Hub lead, Charles Sturt University, will also oversee the co-design with farmers and communities of innovative projects to ensure they deliver what is needed in the region.</p> <p>“Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs have come about through the forward-thinking Future Drought Fund – a long term, sustained investment of $100 million each year to build drought preparedness,” Minister Littleproud said.</p> <p>“The Southern New South Wales Hub will be a shopfront for farmers to access innovative technologies and practices that enable them to be more prepared and resilient to drought.</p> <p>“The Hub will be a ‘hub and spoke’ model with resources, including staff and programs spread throughout Southern New South Wales to capitalise on the members skills, assets and networks to generate drought resilience outcomes in areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community building, regional development and environment.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Southern New South Wales Hub would be headquartered at Charles Sturt University AgriPark, Wagga Wagga campus.</p> <p>“Drought can hit all enterprises in the region, with the powerhouse industries of livestock, wool, cropping, rice, cotton, perennial horticulture (including viticulture) all impacted,” Deputy Prime Minister McCormack said.</p> <p>“The region is a significant contributor to our nation’s economy, with agriculture supporting thousands of jobs and many local communities.</p> <p>“Farm production in the Riverina alone was worth $2.5 billion in 2018-19, accounting for 21 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production for the State.”</p> <p>The Southern New South Wales Hub, the result of a competitive grant process, will support farmers and communities from Broken Hill to Cobar, the Macquarie catchment to the Hawkesbury, and all the way to the Victorian and South Australian state borders.</p> <p>The Hub will bring together organisations like Farming Systems Group Alliance, Local Land Services, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, local Universities and the First National Governance Circle to work with farmers and communities.</p> <p>The Farming Systems Groups Alliance is represented by Farmlink and include Central West Farming Systems, FarmLink Research Ltd, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee, Riverine Plains and Southern Growers and over 3,500 farmer members.</p> <h2>Fast Facts:</h2> <ul> <li>This is one of eight Hubs to be established around the country through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.</li> <li>The Hubs are the centerpiece of the Australian Government’s $86 million Future Drought Fund Research and Adoption Program.</li> <li>They will become flagship precincts for agricultural innovation.</li> <li>The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will lead the</li> <li>co-ordination of the Hubs, supporting them to become interconnected agricultural innovation precincts.</li> </ul> Littleproud A drought resilience adoption and innovation hub for Southern New South Wales Boost for East Gippsland jobs https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/boost-east-gippsland-jobs <p>The Federal Government will provide $7 million supporting five East Gippsland community-based projects to boost the regional economy.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester have announced the first projects under the ‘Regional Recovery Partnership’ (RRP).</p> <p>“We recognise that East Gippsland has been one of the regions hardest hit by the combined impacts of drought, bushfires and the coronavirus and this program is designed to respond to local economic priorities,” Mr McCormack said.</p> <p>“The RRP program reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to working in partnership with other levels of government to deliver targeted initiatives supporting jobs, economic recovery and economic diversification.</p> <p>“The successful projects all have funding commitments from the state or local government and have the capacity to be delivered over the next 12 months.”</p> <p>Successful projects in the electorate of Gippsland are:</p> <p>Krautungalung walk, Lakes Entrance, $2.2 million.</p> <p>East Gippsland Rail Trail, $2 million.</p> <p>Forest Park, Orbost, $1.3 million.</p> <p>Slip Rd, Paynesville, $1 million.</p> <p>Koala Discovery and Rehabilitation, Paynesville and Raymond Island, $500,000.</p> <p>Mr Chester said the projects were part of an ‘active Gippsland’ initiative that he was promoting to improve the liveability of local towns and grow the visitor economy.</p> <p>“All of these projects are investments in the future of our region to drive jobs growth during construction but also deliver long term, sustainable opportunities in tourism and retaining skilled workers,” Mr Chester said.</p> <p>“We need to keep improving community infrastructure to attract and retain workers in health and education and at the same time, promote the visitor economy on a year-round basis.</p> <p>“Projects like streetscape improvements, the rail trail, Krautungalung walk and the koala discovery centre are all about improving our regional attractions and transforming the local economy.</p> <p>“I’m looking forward to delivering these projects as soon as possible, in partnership with East Gippsland Shire and local community groups.”</p> <p>East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Mendy Urie said the Federal Government funding would accelerate development on projects the Council had already identified as high priorities.</p> <p>“We welcome the funding announcement because it allows Council to bring forward projects we had already part-funded by us or secured grants from other sources,” Cr Urie said.</p> <p>“These initiatives, across multiple towns, will support the social, economic and cultural life of East Gippsland and enhance our region as a place to live, invest in, and visit year-round.”</p> McCormack Boost for East Gippsland jobs Supporting Australian screen production https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/supporting-australian-screen-production <p>In a major boost to Australia’s film and television industry, the Morrison Government will extend two measures that will support the continued production of quality, local screen content as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The highly effective $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF) will be extended for a further six months, to provide coverage for productions that commence principal photography prior to 31 December 2021.</p> <p>The Morrison Government will also retain at 40 per cent the Producer Offset rate for feature films with a theatrical release. In addition, as announced last year, the Government will raise the Producer Offset rate from 20 to 30 per cent for other eligible formats such as drama and documentary content for television and streaming platforms.</p> <p>Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said these support measures would enable the local screen industry to continue to create quality Australian productions and keep thousands of jobs and businesses in the local production sector.</p> <p>“Despite our successes in managing COVID-19 in Australia, the continuing severity of the pandemic internationally is a problem for screen production, with insurers still not providing coverage for COVID-19 related events,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p>“TIF has been vital in providing the certainty that productions need to secure financing, and it will have assisted with more than 12,000 production roles and 5000 business contracts in its first year of operation.”</p> <p>The 40 per cent Producer Offset supports around 50 Australian feature films per year with total average rebates of around $124 million. This injects over $300 million per year into the Australian economy, and underpins the tremendous success Australian feature films have had at the box office in recent times.</p> <p>Minister Fletcher said, “Australian feature films play an important role in our cultural identity and resonate strongly with audiences at home and abroad.  After consulting with Australian feature film producers and considering the feature film environment abroad, we have determined that retaining the offset at 40 per cent is appropriate to ensure the ongoing vitality of the sector.”</p> <p>TIF and the Producer Offset are administered by Screen Australia. Eligibility criteria, guidelines and how to apply are available at: <a href="https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/funding-and-support">https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/funding-and-support</a>  </p> <h2><strong>Media contact:</strong></h2> <p>Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Supporting Australian screen production $7 million for Norfolk Island National Park roads https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/marino/media-release/7-million-norfolk-island-national-park-roads <p>Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley has issued tender requests for up to $7 million in tourism spending to upgrade roads in the Norfolk Island National Park.</p> <p>The funding is part of a $233 million Morrison Government investment in infrastructure upgrades across Commonwealth national parks to create jobs and improve access to key tourism sites.</p> <p>Minister Ley said the upgrades would play a key role in enhancing visitor experience as well as ensuring safety and improved access for the local community and park staff.</p> <p>“This is an investment that will help stimulate tourism and provide employment opportunities for the Norfolk Island community,” Minister Ley said.</p> <p>“Having visited the beautiful Norfolk Island National Park and driven on the park’s roads myself, I know how important these road upgrades will be, and with COVID-19 limiting overseas travel, it comes as more Australians are looking for local destinations.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said Norfolk Island is a great tourist destination, and there has never been a better time to visit the Norfolk Island National Park.</p> <p>“The proposed work will include three main roads that lead to popular tourist attractions,” Assistant Minister Marino said.</p> <p>“Duncombe Bay Road, which provides access to Captain Cook Lookout, Mt Pitt Road, which provides access the top of Mt Pitt, the highest point on the island and Palm Glen (Selwyn Pine) Road, which provides access to the Palm Glen picnic area, will all be upgraded.”</p> <p>This $7 million in funding, comes in addition to the Government’s previously announced $5.45 million tailored COVID-19 stimulus package for Norfolk Island to increase local employment and improve the infrastructure used by locals and tourists. Works are progressing well across the 22 community infrastructure initiatives, with a number of projects already completed.</p> <p>The projects include upgrades to Rawson Hall, new equipment and infrastructure at Lion’s Park, plus improvements to local sport facilities including the resurfacing of the netball and tennis courts along with a new grandstand and signage for the squash courts.</p> <p>A key objective through the projects is to encourage return visits and attract a wider variety of visitors from different markets and demographics to experience the rich heritage and attractions of Norfolk Island.</p> <p>Road works are expected to commence by July 2021 and take about five months to complete.</p> <p>More information about the Open Tender process is available on the <a href="https://www.tenders.gov.au/">AusTender </a>website. </p> Marino $7 million for Norfolk Island National Park roads Shovels hit dirt to remove Ovingham Level Crossing https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/shovels-hit-dirt-remove-ovingham-level-crossing <p>The Morrison and Marshall governments are fulfilling their commitment to fix one of Adelaide’s most frustrating traffic bottlenecks, with major works officially getting underway on the $196 million Ovingham Level Crossing Removal Project.</p> <p>Torrens Road will be raised over the existing Ovingham level crossing, meaning motorists will no longer be delayed in traffic waiting for rail services to pass, saving valuable time, improving safety and supporting around 265 full-time jobs per year during construction.</p> <p>Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said this upgrade will change the way people move around Adelaide, improving both travel times and traffic flow.</p> <p>“The boom gates at this location are currently down for approximately 22 per cent of the time during the combined AM and PM peak periods,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p>“Removing the level crossing will not only improve safety but also cut travel times for the 21,300 vehicles on average that pass through the crossing each day.”</p> <p>South Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Corey Wingard MP, said elevating the road over the rail line will provide the best outcome for the community.</p> <p>“Out of the options considered, raising the road will improve walkability and create new community open space, as well as have the least disruption for motorists, residents and local businesses,” Minister Wingard said.</p> <p>“The new road can be mostly constructed off-line, assisting to minimise traffic impacts during construction.</p> <p>“Out of 127 at-grade level crossings in Adelaide we’ve identified 31 that pose the highest risk to users and create the greatest disturbances on the network and it’s great the initiative has recently been added to the Infrastructure Australia priority list. We’re now working to prioritise future projects on the list.”</p> <p>Senator for South Australia and Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, said South Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery will be boosted by getting shovels in the ground on critical local infrastructure projects.</p> <p>“Over 265 full-time jobs will be supported each year during the construction of the project at Ovingham, bringing much-needed certainty for local workers and businesses,” Minister Birmingham said.</p> <p>“This milestone is yet another demonstration of the Morrison and Marshall governments working together to support jobs and get South Australians home sooner and safer.”</p> <p>State Member for Adelaide, Rachel Sanderson MP, said it is fantastic to see the project now underway.</p> <p>“The Marshall Liberal Government is delivering a long overdue upgrade that will benefit many people in the local area and surrounds,” Minister Sanderson said.</p> <p>“This project is not only creating vital jobs, it will save valuable waiting and travel times and improve green spaces around the intersection.”</p> <p>The upgrade at Ovingham also involves the elevation of the western end of Churchill Road, which intersects with Torrens Road approximately 100 metres from the Ovingham Level Crossing heading towards the city, so that it meets the elevated height of Torrens Road.</p> <p>Piling works are expected to start in May 2021, with project completion in 2023, weather permitting.</p> <p>For more information about the project, visit the Ovingham Level Crossing Removal virtual room at <a href="https://dit.sa.gov.au/infrastructure/public_transport_projects/ovingham_level_crossing_removal/virtual_room">https://dit.sa.gov.au/infrastructure/public_transport_projects/ovingham…</a></p> <h2>Media contact:</h2> <p>Minister Fletcher: Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a> ; Christine Vanden Byllaardt | 0409 433 357 | <a href="mailto:Christine.VandenByllaardt@communications.gov.au">Christine.VandenByllaardt@communications.gov.au</a></p> <p>Minister Wingard: Gemma Coombe | 0415 175 716 | <a href="mailto:Gemma.Coombe@sa.gov.au">Gemma.Coombe@sa.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Shovels hit dirt to remove Ovingham Level Crossing Concept designs released for new Heysen Gallery at Hahndorf https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/concept-designs-released-new-heysen-gallery-hahndorf <p class="MsoBodyText">A new gallery displaying works of acclaimed artist Sir Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora Heysen is one step closer today, after concept designs by the Adelaide-based studio of international architecture firm, Snøhetta, were released by the Hans Heysen Foundation.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText"> The new gallery, located at ‘The Cedars’ – the Hahndorf home of Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora – will comprise a purpose-built gallery, restaurant and gift shop, as well as bushfire-safe storage for artworks.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText">Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said construction of the gallery is funded under the transformative Adelaide City Deal.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText">“This is a great example of how the City Deal is boosting Adelaide’s cultural and tourism economy, and importantly it will help secure a stronger future for the area – needed now more than ever as we continue to recover from COVID-19,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText">“The Heysen gallery will create local jobs and help support the local economy. With construction set for mid-year, I am sure local businesses who have been struggling will welcome the additional visitors the new gallery will attract”.</p> <p>Chairman of the Hans Heysen Foundation Board, Mr James Sexton, said the precinct’s design was befitting of the legendary status of the Heysens in the national and international art world, as well as their personal connection with the local environment.</p> <p>“We want the gallery to be confident, authentic and well-grounded in the character of Hans Heysen and his family,” Mr Sexton said.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText">Incorporating rammed earth concrete materials, expansive glazing to bring in scenic vistas, strong timber-themed interior furnishings as well as energy saving design features, construction of the gallery is expected to commence later this year.</p> <p class="MsoBodyText">The Morrison Government is investing $9 million in the construction of the gallery under the Adelaide City Deal – a $649 million, 10-year partnership between the Australian and South Australian governments and the City of Adelaide.</p> <p class="Default"><strong>Media contact:</strong></p> <p class="Default">Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Concept designs released for new Heysen Gallery at Hahndorf Major works underway to upgrade the Portrush and Magill roads intersection https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/major-works-underway-upgrade-portrush-and-magill-roads-intersection <p>Major works are underway on the congestion-busting upgrade to the Portrush Road and Magill Road intersection to improve safety, cut travel times and bust congestion for Adelaide drivers.</p> <p>Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the jointly funded $98 million project is supporting around 78 full time-equivalent jobs during construction.</p> <p>“Congestion-busting projects like this one will help tens of thousands of motorists daily, saving them valuable time on their commute and making their journeys safer and more reliable,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p>“Around 62,000 vehicles travel through the intersection each day and from 2015 to 2019 there were 50 crashes, including 19 injury-causing crashes and 31 property damage crashes. “Even one crash and one injury on our roads is one too many, which is why delivering safe and efficient roads is a key priority of the Australian Government.”</p> <p>South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Corey Wingard MP, said the Marshall Government was getting on with the job of delivering better journeys and economic outcomes for motorists.</p> <p>“Portrush Road forms part of the National Land Transport Network and the Outer Ring Route, providing an important north-south connection from the South Eastern Freeway around the City of Adelaide,” Minister Wingard said.</p> <p>“Private, commercial, freight and public transport users all currently experience significant delays through the intersection leading to increased costs of travel.</p> <p>“Portrush and Magill Roads are high-frequency public transport corridors and freight routes so these upgrades will boost connectivity and business efficiency.</p> <p>“The Marshall Government is building what matters for South Australia and that includes road upgrades across Adelaide to bust congestion and get commuters home faster and safer.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Sturt, James Stevens MP, said he was pleased to see major construction starting today, injecting much-needed jobs and economic stimulus that will benefit the entire community by getting cash flowing across local businesses.</p> <p>“This has been a notorious intersection for locals for some time, our governments have listened and we have acted by funding this critical upgrade,” Mr Stevens said.</p> <p>“Locals and visitors alike will soon be reaping the benefits of a safer, more efficient route, with the upgraded Portrush and Magill Road intersection expected to be complete next year.”</p> <p>The major works contract for the upgrade of the intersection has been awarded to BMD Constructions.</p> <p>The South Australian Department for Infrastructure and Transport has undertaken service relocations and early investigation works along Portrush Road and Magill Road to facilitate the intersection upgrade.</p> <p>Road users are asked to take extra care when workers are on site. Observe speed limits, lane restrictions and traffic controllers when travelling through the area.</p> <p>Speed restrictions will be in place during the works, and lane restrictions will be implemented intermittently to maintain the safety of road users and workers.</p> <p>The $98 million project is jointly funded by the Australian and South Australian governments under the $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund.</p> <p>The intersection will be open to traffic by the end of 2021 with completion expected in early 2022.</p> <h2>Media contact:</h2> <p>Minister Fletcher: Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a></p> <p>Minister Wingard: Gemma Coombe | 0415 175 716 | <a href="mailto:Gemma.Coombe@sa.gov.au">Gemma.Coombe@sa.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Major works underway to upgrade the Portrush and Magill roads intersection