Ministers for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/ Latest releases from the Ministers en Entire length of Pooncarie Road to be sealed opening access to Menindee Lakes https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/coulton/media-release/entire-length-pooncarie-road-be-sealed-opening-access-menindee-lakes <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Journeys for the people of Pooncarie and Menindee are about to change dramatically as work gets underway to seal one of the region’s major arterial routes.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the upgrade of Pooncarie Road between Menindee and Pooncarie, from a dirt road to a bitumen sealed road, would result in less road closures from rain events.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“The majority of the road is still unsealed which often results in communities being isolated for weeks at a time after rainfall,” Mr Coulton said.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“The 87.5 kilometres of bitumen sealing to be carried out over the next three years will ensure motorists enjoy safer, faster and more reliable journeys, opening up the area to tourism and freight operators while connecting the historic towns of Pooncarie, Menindee, Wilcannia, White Cliffs and Broken Hill.”</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the upgrade was fantastic news for people who  used the road frequently and needed to access crucial services on a daily basis.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“We’ve demonstrated how sealing a road can change the lives of the local communities with the sealing of the Silver City Highway from Broken Hill to Tibooburra - road closures from flooding are now only days instead of weeks,” Mr Toole said.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“About 75 people will be employed during this three-year project which will boost local employment and unlock opportunities for primary producers and tourism operators. The new road will be a huge asset for the region.”</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the recent federal funding announcement of $4.6 million, which has been matched by NSW, meant that 26.5 kilometres of road would now be sealed through the Wentworth Shire in addition to the 61 kilometres through the Central Darling Shire.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“A fully sealed road will reduce travel times by about 90 minutes between Menindee and Wentworth - at present some vehicles are forced to travel at around 20km/hour along parts of the dirt road,” Ms Ley said.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“This will mean all kinds of vehicles, including caravans, will now have year-round access to the environmental drawcards of Menindee Lakes and Mungo National Park.”</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">NSW Member of the Legislative Council Sam Farraway said the upgrade would transform journeys for not only locals, but also tourists and freight operators.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“Pooncarie Road connects people in the Menindee Lakes area with emergency and health services, schools and other services – and the freight operators who bring supplies like groceries,” Mr Farraway said.</p> <p>“All too often, the road is impassable or washes away in heavy rainfall or flooding, isolating these communities often for weeks, so it’s great we’re getting on with the job of delivering this project for local communities.”</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Darryl Cowie, who moved to Menindee 27 years ago and has owned the Burke and Wills Motel since 2006, said he was looking forward to seeing tourists flock to the area once Pooncarie Road is sealed.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“Visitors to Menindee drive in from Broken Hill and soon realise that they need to travel back the same way. The sealing of Pooncarie Road will really open up the Far South West area for exploring and make access easier for emergency services,” Mr Cowie said.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Freight operator John Coombe, a born-and-bred Menindee local, thinks the sealing of Pooncarie Road will ‘link the break in the chain’.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">“Not only will we see an increase in visitors to Menindee but for freight operators like myself, Pooncarie Road will become a reliable commute that’s not affected by weather anymore,” Mr Coombe said.</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Work started on the Central Darling Shire portion of the project on Tuesday, 19 January with works to start on the Wentworth Shire portion of the project in the first half of 2021. </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">For more information visit <a href="https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/pooncarie-road/index.html__;!!FvZmfVE!TQTcm9D-IzYCMJ1-NtAw4ozFV1Oe9907YhEkcRZTnAfJvUX1r-9kZU5kvP25Dbs8WhCgHw$">https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/pooncarie-road/index.html</a></p> <h2><strong>Media:</strong></h2> <p class="boswellmediaheader"><strong>Minister Coulton</strong> – Anna Conn 0491 135 852</p> <p><strong>Minister Ley </strong>– Steve Block 0428 213 264</p> <p><strong>Minister Toole</strong> – Ella Smith 0428 745 348</p> Coulton Entire length of Pooncarie Road to be sealed opening access to Menindee Lakes Sustainability funding will support Australian arts organisations https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/sustainability-funding-will-support-australian-arts-organisations <p>The Morrison Government will provide over $9 million of funding to support four leading Australian arts organisations heavily impacted by COVID-19.</p> <p>The funding comes out of the $35 million COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund, which is designed to assist systemically significant Australian arts organisations which are judged to face a risk to their sustainability over the next 12 months due to COVID-19.</p> <p>It is a requirement to receive funding that a recipient organisation is considered to have a good prospect of maintaining its viability - and has a clear plan to do so - if the funding is made available.</p> <p>The National Institute of Dramatic Art, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Melbourne Art Foundation will collectively receive more than $9 million from the fund to support their continued operations.</p> <p>All four organisations will continue to receive business as usual funding from the Australian Government of around $20 million collectively in 2021.</p> <p>The Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the funding will support recipients to continue operating during and beyond this period of severe disruption.</p> <p>“A perverse consequence of the devastating COVID-19 driven downturn in arts activity is that some of the hardest hit organisations are those which have done the most, over many years, to diversify away from reliance on Government funding by developing significant alternative revenue streams.</p> <p>“This factor has been recognised in choosing these four organisations to receive funding under the Sustainability Fund.”</p> <p>The funding outcomes follow a thorough assessment process administered by the Office for the Arts, involving the Australia Council and independent financial assessor, the Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency.</p> <p>In 2020 the Australian Government announced almost $800 million in additional arts and entertainment funding, on top of a record annual investment of around $750 million in core funding, and on top of more than $558 million provided to date through JobKeeper and $110 million provided in cash flow payments to businesses.</p> <p>Authorised by the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Sydney.<br /> The Sustainability Fund is still open and accepting applications. Applications will close on 31 May 2021 (5:00pm AEST), subject to allocation of funds.</p> <p> <strong>Media contact:</strong></p> <p>Imre Salusinszky | 0432 535 737 | <a href="mailto:Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au">Imre.Salusinszky@communications.gov.au</a></p> Fletcher Sustainability funding will support Australian arts organisations Rockhampton Museum of Art reaches lockup stage https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/rockhampton-museum-art-reaches-lockup-stage <p>A major milestone towards creating the world class Rockhampton Museum of Art was reached today, with the main structure now in lockup stage.</p> <p>The Rockhampton Museum of Art will be the largest in regional Queensland and will feature two flexible gallery spaces, three multi-purpose education spaces, a restaurant and retail space and a function area on the top floor overlooking the Fitzroy River.</p> <p>The project has received funding from all levels of government, with the Australian Government, State Government, and Rockhampton Regional Council coming together to turn the idea into a reality.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Australian Government’s $10,000,000 investment in the development of a cutting-edge art gallery in Rockhampton epitomises the commitment to the regions.</p> <p>“On top of incorporating both permanent and programmable gallery spaces, this investment will see the delivery of three education rooms, a retail space and a café,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>“The Australian Government remains committed to supporting our regional, rural and remote communities right throughout our nation, whether it is roads, rail or world-class cultural facilities we are developing the Australia of the future.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she welcomes the news of the Rockhampton Museum of Art meeting the next construction milestone.</p> <p>“The new state-of-the-art building will build on Central Queensland’s rich cultural history and will allow Rockhampton Regional Council to display a more diverse array of art pieces from the local area and around the entire country.</p> <p>“The Rockhampton Museum of Art will be a ground-breaking addition to the town and it’s a great example of what can be achieved when all levels of government work together to benefit the region.</p> <p>“The Rockhampton Museum of Art was a commitment of mine in the 2019 election and it is wonderful to see it take shape and reach milestone after milestone. I am looking forward to seeing the Museum of Art’s doors open soon and seeing residents of Central Queensland and tourists enjoy it for the years to come,” Ms Landry said.</p> <p>Queensland Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment of $15 million for the new Rockhampton Museum of Art was an investment in the local economy and community.</p> <p>“This is an exciting stage for a project that will deliver significant cultural tourism outcomes for the region, along with opportunities for local artists,” Mr O’Rourke said.</p> <p>“Approximately 800 tradespeople are being inducted over the course of the build, 80 per cent of whom are locally-based. This work for local tradies and suppliers has come during a critical time for our region as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19.</p> <p>“Importantly, the project will continue to contribute to our community’s workforce, wellbeing and regional growth far into the future.”</p> <p>Rockhampton Region Acting Mayor Neil Fisher said:</p> <p>“I need to start off by saying just how grateful we are to our Federal and State funding partners: the Rockhampton Museum of Art simply would not have happened without them.</p> <p>“The progress of work that’s been achieved over of the past few months is significant, and now we are in the wonderful position of being able to say that the roof is on, the windows are in, the structure is finished: all major external façade works are almost complete!</p> <p>“We’ll now be focusing on the internal fit outs and testing and commissioning various electrical and mechanical systems so the museum is ready to open to the community later this year.</p> <p>“It’s going to be a source of local pride not just for the Rockhampton Region, but for Central Queensland as a whole. Kids and communities from the bush to the beach will now have this world class facility within driving distance.</p> <p>“This project is not only creating jobs and helping the economy during the COVID-19 downturn, but it will continue to pay dividends for Rockhampton Region and beyond in years to come as an outstanding community facility and a drawcard for tourists.”</p> <p>Rockhampton Region Communities Councillor, Drew Wickerson, said:</p> <p>“I am so excited that we’re now at this stage with the Rockhampton Museum of Art.</p> <p>“When completed, it will be six times the size of the existing gallery and house the works of some of Australia’s most significant artists including Margaret Olley, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, and Jeffrey Smart.</p> <p>“We will also be able to host nationally significant travelling exhibitions which we weren’t able to accommodate before. This will be great for our community and also entice others to visit.”</p> <p>Rockhampton Museum of Art is funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and through the Building Our Regions program; and Rockhampton Regional Council.</p> McCormack Rockhampton Museum of Art reaches lockup stage Inland Rail contracts turnout big for Aussie made https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/coulton/media-release/inland-rail-contracts-turnout-big-aussie-made <p class="MsoNormal">Regional Victoria will reap ongoing benefits after the Australian Rail Track Corporation signed an $80 million contract for the local manufacture of Inland Rail turnouts by Vossloh Cogifer’s Australian facilities.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said this was further evidence of the significant economic benefits the 1,700 kilometre Inland Rail connecting Melbourne to Brisbane.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“The Australian Government’s investment in Inland Rail is delivering a world-class freight backbone that will stimulate economic growth, build supply chain resilience and enhance market access,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“But local industries and suppliers will benefit right now as shown by the signing of this major contract.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Over the next five years, Vossloh will need 32 additional people to support the design and manufacture of more than 200 turnouts primarily in Castlemaine in central Victoria.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“It is but one example of the opportunities for manufacturers in Australia to supply a number of products for Inland Rail, providing much needed employment that will grow and sustain business. And it is providing the confidence to hire more staff.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“The unprecedented economic shock from COVID-19 is something that has affected us all. As we recover, Australia needs people in jobs with our industries open and ready for business.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government’s investment in Inland Rail would continue to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses and create more jobs for Australians.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Inland Rail continues to drive economic activity throughout the construction phase and the local manufacture of this critical part of rail infrastructure reinforces the positive flow-on effects of this project right through our economy,” Minister Birmingham said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Inland Rail is backing businesses and jobs for Australians including across regional Victoria at a time when we need them most.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton praised the use of manufacturers in Australia to supply Inland Rail.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Manufacturers from all over the country are supplying Inland Rail as we complete the 1,700 km backbone of our national freight network,” Minister Coulton said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Construction of Inland Rail is delivering significant benefits to businesses and people in regional Australia – but Inland Rail will deliver much more, it will deliver the long-term boost that regional Australia deserves.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Liberal Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson welcomed the news a Castlemaine-based company had won such a significant contract.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This is just wonderful news for Castlemaine and the Bendigo electorate. This contract is delivering a substantial 32 jobs for the 200 new turnouts Vossloh will be manufacturing,” Senator Henderson said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This $80 million turnout contract for the component that allows a train to diverge from one track to another guarantees jobs for Australians and provides stimulus for local manufacturers.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">”This represents a very big boost for regional Victoria.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Chief Executive Officer of Vossloh AG Oliver Schuster welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of Inland Rail.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This order is the biggest in the history of Vossloh in Australia. It highlights our strong market position and the increasing importance of the Australian market,” he said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“We are delighted that our long-standing customer ARTC has once again placed its trust in us and that we can contribute to the biggest rail infrastructure project for freight transport in Australia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Vossloh is a highly experienced manufacturer in Australia, supplying turnouts, special trackwork components and concrete sleepers to the major rail operators in Australia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“We have provided our products for some of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects across Australia, and we’re looking forward to getting started on Inland Rail.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">To date, millions of dollars’ worth of contracts have been awarded to Australian manufacturers supplying Inland Rail, including:</p> <ul> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst">$51 million in steel rail (38,000 tonnes) supplied by Liberty OneSteel Whyalla, South Australia.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">$25 million in ballast and capping (800,000 tonnes) from Parkes-based companies Calvani Crushing and Ausrock Quarries.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">$13 million worth of culverts weighing 26,625 tonnes from Holcim, Tamworth.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">116,396 concrete sleepers from Rocla in Mittagong. </li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">224,939 sleepers from Austrak in Wagga Wagga. </li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast">365,000 rail clips from Pandrol, Blacktown.</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal">Vossloh Cogifer Australia Pty Ltd is part of the Customised Modules division in the Vossloh Group. The company is headquartered in Castlemaine in central Victoria, employs around 70 workers in Australia, and specialises in the manufacture and maintenance of switch systems.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The $80 million contract was executed after a competitive tender process conducted by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">For more information on ARTC procurement visit <a href="https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/opportunities/suppliers/">https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/opportunities/suppliers/</a> .</p> <h2 class="MsoNormal"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Joanne Williamson 0418 475 668</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Minister Birmingham – Benn Ayre 0428 342 325</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Minister Coulton – Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Senator Henderson – Nick Lamanna 0400 673 78</p> Coulton Inland Rail contracts turnout big for Aussie made Inland Rail contracts turnout big for Aussie made https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/inland-rail-contracts-turnout-big-aussie-made <p class="MsoNormal">Regional Victoria will reap ongoing benefits after the Australian Rail Track Corporation signed an $80 million contract for the local manufacture of Inland Rail turnouts by Vossloh Cogifer’s Australian facilities.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said this was further evidence of the significant economic benefits the 1,700 kilometre Inland Rail connecting Melbourne to Brisbane.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“The Australian Government’s investment in Inland Rail is delivering a world-class freight backbone that will stimulate economic growth, build supply chain resilience and enhance market access,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“But local industries and suppliers will benefit right now as shown by the signing of this major contract.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Over the next five years, Vossloh will need 32 additional people to support the design and manufacture of more than 200 turnouts primarily in Castlemaine in central Victoria.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“It is but one example of the opportunities for manufacturers in Australia to supply a number of products for Inland Rail, providing much needed employment that will grow and sustain business. And it is providing the confidence to hire more staff.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“The unprecedented economic shock from COVID-19 is something that has affected us all. As we recover, Australia needs people in jobs with our industries open and ready for business.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the Government’s investment in Inland Rail would continue to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses and create more jobs for Australians.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Inland Rail continues to drive economic activity throughout the construction phase and the local manufacture of this critical part of rail infrastructure reinforces the positive flow-on effects of this project right through our economy,” Minister Birmingham said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Inland Rail is backing businesses and jobs for Australians including across regional Victoria at a time when we need them most.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton praised the use of manufacturers in Australia to supply Inland Rail.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Manufacturers from all over the country are supplying Inland Rail as we complete the 1,700 km backbone of our national freight network,” Minister Coulton said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Construction of Inland Rail is delivering significant benefits to businesses and people in regional Australia – but Inland Rail will deliver much more, it will deliver the long-term boost that regional Australia deserves.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Liberal Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson welcomed the news a Castlemaine-based company had won such a significant contract.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This is just wonderful news for Castlemaine and the Bendigo electorate. This contract is delivering a substantial 32 jobs for the 200 new turnouts Vossloh will be manufacturing,” Senator Henderson said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This $80 million turnout contract for the component that allows a train to diverge from one track to another guarantees jobs for Australians and provides stimulus for local manufacturers.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">”This represents a very big boost for regional Victoria.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Chief Executive Officer of Vossloh AG Oliver Schuster welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of Inland Rail.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“This order is the biggest in the history of Vossloh in Australia. It highlights our strong market position and the increasing importance of the Australian market,” he said.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“We are delighted that our long-standing customer ARTC has once again placed its trust in us and that we can contribute to the biggest rail infrastructure project for freight transport in Australia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Vossloh is a highly experienced manufacturer in Australia, supplying turnouts, special trackwork components and concrete sleepers to the major rail operators in Australia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“We have provided our products for some of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects across Australia, and we’re looking forward to getting started on Inland Rail.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">To date, millions of dollars’ worth of contracts have been awarded to Australian manufacturers supplying Inland Rail, including:</p> <ul> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst">$51 million in steel rail (38,000 tonnes) supplied by Liberty OneSteel Whyalla, South Australia.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">$25 million in ballast and capping (800,000 tonnes) from Parkes-based companies Calvani Crushing and Ausrock Quarries.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">$13 million worth of culverts weighing 26,625 tonnes from Holcim, Tamworth.</li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">116,396 concrete sleepers from Rocla in Mittagong. </li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle">224,939 sleepers from Austrak in Wagga Wagga. </li> <li class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast">365,000 rail clips from Pandrol, Blacktown.</li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal">Vossloh Cogifer Australia Pty Ltd is part of the Customised Modules division in the Vossloh Group. The company is headquartered in Castlemaine in central Victoria, employs around 70 workers in Australia, and specialises in the manufacture and maintenance of switch systems.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The $80 million contract was executed after a competitive tender process conducted by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">For more information on ARTC procurement visit <a href="https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/opportunities/suppliers/">https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/opportunities/suppliers/</a> .</p> <h2 class="MsoNormal"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Joanne Williamson 0418 475 668</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Minister Birmingham – Benn Ayre 0428 342 325</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Minister Coulton – Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Senator Henderson – Nick Lamanna 0400 673 78</p> McCormack Inland Rail contracts turnout big for Aussie made METRONET steaming ahead with three projects moving to shortlist phase https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/fletcher/media-release/metronet-steaming-ahead-three-projects-moving-shortlist-phase <p>2021 looks set to be another big year of progress for METRONET, with three projects now moving into the major construction procurement shortlist phase.</p> <p>The announcement includes the main construction contract for the Byford rail extension, the removal of three level crossings through Victoria Park and the construction of a new Midland Station.</p> <p>Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, said METRONET was creating local jobs and helping the Western Australian economy through COVID-19.</p> <p>“We have nine METRONET projects in construction, and with another three major construction contracts to be awarded later this year, there are more opportunities for local jobs and businesses to get involved,” the Premier said.</p> <p>“We are building the major infrastructure we need for tomorrow.”</p> <p>Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said METRONET was paving the way for thousands of jobs for hard-working Western Australians and boosting the WA economy.</p> <p>“All along, the Morrison Government has said METRONET will re-shape Perth and we’re seeing this transformation take shape,” Minister Fletcher said.</p> <p>“These projects also mean jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”</p> <p>Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, said the contracts for the three projects would be awarded later this year.</p> <p>“Early works on the METRONET Byford Rail Extension are already underway with the removal of the Thomas Road level crossing,” Minister Saffioti said.</p> <p>“The removal of the Oats Street level crossing and the construction of the new Midland Station were both key McGowan Government election commitments – due to our successful negotiations with the Commonwealth, we have been able to remove additional level crossings at Mint Street in Victoria Park and Welshpool Road.”</p> <p>While early works on the Thomas Road level crossing removal continue, two alliances have been shortlisted to design and build METRONET’s Byford Rail Extension project, which will add eight kilometres to the Armadale Line, extending it to Byford with a new station about 400 metres north of Abernethy Road.</p> <p>Following a Request for Proposal, the Byford Alliance (Downer EDI Works, CPB Contractors Aurecon Australasia, and CareyMC) and MetCONNX Alliance (Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction, Pritchard Francis Consulting, and Kellogg Brown &amp; Root) will now progress to the competitive bid phase, where they will be asked to show how they will deliver the project.</p> <p>The alliances will also provide additional priced options to potentially expand the project scope and include an elevated rail component, following requests from the City of Armadale and Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.</p> <p>The final scope of the Byford Rail Extension will be subject to stakeholder engagement, price and available funding with the major construction contract to be awarded later this year.</p> <p>The removal of dangerous level crossings through Victoria Park is also a step closer with two alliances shortlisted for the main construction works at three sites.</p> <p>This METRONET project could see up to six level crossings removed – Mint Street, Oats Street, Welshpool Road, as well as Hamilton Street, Wharf Street and William Street, with the contractor asked to price all six removals.</p> <p>Following an expression of interest period, the Armadale Line Upgrade Alliance (Acciona/Coleman Rail, BMD Constructions, WSP Australia, and AECOM Australia) and Elevate Alliance (Downer EDI Works, CPB Contractors, GHD, Aurecon Australasia, and CareyMC) will progress to the competitive bid phase, where they will show how they will deliver the Mint Street, Oats Street and Welshpool Road removals via an elevated rail solution, while also offering a priced option for the Hamilton, Wharf and William streets package.</p> <p>The removal of the three additional level crossings will be subject to further funding discussions.  </p> <p>The Mint Street-Oats Street-Welshpool Road contract is expected to be awarded later this year.</p> <p>Two proponents have been shortlisted to prepare detailed proposals to design and build Midland’s new train station and associated infrastructure – Transform Midland Alliance (Downer EDI Works, SMEC Australia) and Midland Junction Alliance (McConnell Dowell Constructors, Georgiou Group, Arcadis Australia, and BG&amp;E).</p> <p>The two proponents now progress to the competitive bid phase which will include the design and construction of a new station between Helena and Cale streets and the decommissioning and demolishing of the existing 52-year-old train station.</p> <p>Along with a 12-stand bus interchange and multi-storey car park with more than 600 parking bays, the new three-platform station will include a north-south pedestrian overpass, universal access, passenger toilets, lifts and stairs, kiosk and about 100 secure bike parks.</p> <p>The alliance contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.</p> <p>The projects are jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Western Australian Government, with the Commonwealth committing $530.5 million.</p> Fletcher METRONET steaming ahead with three projects moving to shortlist phase Momentum builds for Singleton bypass https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/momentum-builds-singleton-bypass <p>The Australian and New South Wales Governments are pushing ahead with a game-changing bypass of Singleton on the New England Highway.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the New England Highway was a vital inland road link between Sydney and Brisbane and the primary route connecting the Upper Hunter with Maitland and Newcastle.</p> <p>“The Australian Government has committed $560 million towards a new bypass of Singleton as part of our record investment in transport infrastructure, delivering safer and more efficient journeys for thousands of motorists every day,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>“We’re now seeking industry feedback on the best way to deliver the bypass so we can get shovels in the ground and construction happening as quickly as possible.</p> <p>“The Australian Government will continue to roll out these types of major projects across the nation under our record $110 billion infrastructure investment plan which is laying the foundations for our economic recovery from COVID-19.”</p> <p>New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the bypass was a big commitment that would remove one of the region’s most notorious bottlenecks.</p> <p>“We know how important this project is to the community, which is why the NSW Government has committed $140 million towards the project,” Mr Toole said.</p> <p>“With around 26,000 vehicles, including more than 3,700 trucks, passing through Singleton every day, a bypass will be a real game-changer for this community.</p> <p>“It will remove about 15,000 vehicles per day from the town centre, ease congestion and improve safety as well as deliver travel time savings for thousands of motorists every day.”</p> <p>Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the bypass would be designed to cater for a later upgrade to a dual carriageway where required to meet future traffic demands.</p> <p>“We’ve planned this project effectively and I’m excited that it is moving forward because it will make our region an even better place to live, work and visit,” Mr Joyce said.</p> <p>“The community has helped shape the design for the project and now we want to engage with the experts in the field to ensure we are well-positioned to deliver it as soon as possible.”</p> <p>“We have a plan that’s going to bring more people into the New England and Upper Hunter, get them there quickly and safely so they can spend their money in your shops and motels.”</p> <p>State Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said work on the eight-kilometre bypass was expected to start in mid-2023 and be completed by late 2026, with lasting benefits for the community.</p> <p>“This project is expected to support more than 1,370 jobs and we will draw on our local Singleton businesses and contractors to maximise the benefit of this activity,” Mr Johnsen said.</p> <p>“We know how important it is to keep infrastructure and jobs in our regions as we continue the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”</p> <p>Senator for New South Wales Perin Davey said the bypass would make an immense difference to not only locals but also the many travellers and tourists who frequent the region.</p> <p>“This will benefit the thousands of motorists who travel along the New England Highway every day, especially freight and heavy vehicles,” Senator Davey said.</p> <p>“This project will bring us another step closer to delivering a seamless highway for tourists and commercial vehicles, which are both so important to these local economies.”</p> <p>Transport for NSW is currently finalising the concept design and will keep the community informed as the project progresses.</p> <p>The $700 million project is jointly funded, with the Australian Government committing $560 million and the NSW Government providing the remaining funding.</p> McCormack Momentum builds for Singleton bypass Doorstop interview - Quilpie, Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/littleproud/interview/doorstop-interview-quilpie-queensland <p><strong>THE HON. DAVID LITTLEPROUD MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, DROUGHT, AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: </strong>Well, thanks for coming. It’s great to be back at the Tully family- can I thank the Tully’s for having us again back here to their property just outside Quilpie. Can I thank the Prime Minister who, his first visit after ascending to the Prime Ministership was to this family property to see the drought. The drought was gripping this part of the world as it gripped most of the country. The Prime Minister made it a priority by coming and seeing it firsthand, understanding the trials and tribulations, but also the hope of these people. And we've now got hope, we've had rain. The federal government has proudly put over $10 billion dollars worth of commitments into the drought programmes and that's for our national drought strategy being for the here and now, giving families support in the here and now through the farm household allowance, giving them some dignity and respect to put bread and butter on the table every day. Also through interest free repayment free loans, to give them the support to get through those hard times. We've also had our second pillar, which is supporting the communities that support these families, making sure that their economic distress is also addressed through the Building Better Regions funds which the Deputy Prime Minister has administered, or the drought community programme being administered by the local government, having local solutions, supporting these communities. And we also look to the future we’re the first government said we need to look for the next drought. The next drought starts the very first day after it finishes raining. And you have to prepare for it and the $5 billion dollar Future Drought Fund is up and going. And $100 million dollars of that is being spent as we speak. And next year's $100 million dollars is being planned as we speak as well. And we've also had the Deputy Prime Minister who’s been passionate about water infrastructure, plumbing the country, investing in the smarts of this country to make sure that we empower our farmers with the tools to be able to continue to produce the best food and fibre in the world. So I'm glad not only to have the Prime Minister, but to have the Deputy Prime Minister with me who has been passionate about this as I have, Scotty Buchholz the Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Transport, who has bitumened a lot of this country by getting out and getting on the road and seeing it. And to Senator McGrath, can I say who is the member for Maranoa while I'm not here. He's done a sensational job in sitting at kitchen tables and getting the real stories of real people like the Tullys. That is what we are here for. Is to address the real concerns, the aspirations, the hopes, not just of Steve and Annabell but their next generation. The story of agriculture is just [inaudible]. We've lost too many generations of young people in the regional and rural Australian agriculture. Our story is a positive one and this is testament to it, this family is testament to it. And this government will stand with them. So Prime Minister, thanks again for coming. It's a real testament to your commitment to people right across regional and rural Australia that you continue to make this a priority.</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Thank you, well David thank you, and particularly to Steve and Annabell and the whole Tully family. It's great to be back here with you, with the DPM- with Michael, who we've stood here together, David, just over two years ago, a bit beyond that in fact. And we looked out at this place and it looked a little bit different back then, in the paddock behind us over here I remember Steve showed me a photo of what it used to look like. When we came last time it was as dry as what is underneath us right now. But at one time it was grass up about here Steve, that’s about right. And what struck me when I first met Steve and Annabell and the family was just how resilient they were, some 6 years into the drought and they're still in drought - there are 41 local government areas here in Queensland which are still in drought. But the comeback here is well and truly underway. Steve had I think around about 5,000 head of sheep here at that time, well below half or more of the carrying capacity here on this property that's been in their family for generations. And they're coming back now, up around 7 - 8,000 now, carrying some from other stations around the place and, and on their way back. And they're diversifying, bringing in goats and they're finding their way through. The dog fencing, which we spoke about last time we came, is making a huge impact here. It's ensuring that the finance flows. These are the practical things which Steve and Annabell and so many of the heroes of our drought have been doing to get Australia through and to get these regions and rural communities through. We're very pleased, the DPM and I and the whole team that’s here, Scotty and James, that the things we've been doing have been backing them in to achieve them. Whether it's been the work through the drought communities programme, through local government areas, particularly here in Quilpie, who backed in the broader dog fencing initiative and ensured that it went right across the shire area here. And so together, all the stations and properties around here have become more resilient. The investments they’ve made in the water infrastructure, you know in the Tully [inaudible] they’ve continued to sow in and as a result they are now looking for [inaudible] more optimism than I encountered when I was here a couple of years ago, and that's a tremendous encouragement, I think, to all of us around the country. This past year, the country has gone through an incredibly tough period of time through COVID-19 but that toughness was no stranger to the Tully's and the many families in rural and regional communities across our country who have been enduring the drought for many, many years. As we come up here today and we visit more of these communities it's great to see the comeback underway and it's great to see how the hope and the optimism that they sewn in to this property and in so many towns and regions like it across Queensland and across Australia, they're starting to see the benefits of that. So we're pleased that those programmes have been working. We're pleased that the delivery on the ground, which has been helping kids to stay in school, the psychological counselling and support which has been so important to to help people get through these difficult times, the practical things like fences and on farm irrigation, or water infrastructure and things of that nature. All of it making a practical difference, but the main ingredient has been the resilience and has been the resourcefulness and has been the optimism and hope of the people themselves. So it's great to be back here, Steve and Annabell. It's great to be here with the kids as well. And I’m glad they’ve had a summer back here at home and to be able to see what's happening, and I really do love that whole new water park thing you’ve got over there Steve, I think that the people down at Roadshow will come and take a bit of a shot of that, I think you never know what you might see at theme parks around Australia. So it's great to be here. I’m going to ask Michael McCormack to say a few words and then Steve Tully’s going to tell you a bit about what the last years have been like. But I do want to leave you with this. While things have improved, there is still a long way to go. And I think that's the story of our country. Things have improved. We are getting through this together, but there is still a long way to go. And that's why the plans that we've got in place to support that recovery, to aid that comeback, are still so important. Michael?</p> <p><strong>THE HON MICHAEL MCCORMACK MP, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: </strong>Thank you Prime Minister, as Liberals and Nationals we don't set and forget. When the Prime Minister came out here with David and I back in August 2018, we saw a landscape vastly different than what we're witnessing today. Dams two thirds full, now there’s a few green shoots on what was once bare earth. I'm really pleased to see Steve and Annabel Tully. I'm even more delighted to see their three children, three of their five children because they are the future. It's the kids who are the future of regional Queensland. It's the kids who are the future of these places, because Steve and Annabell, they can set it up only so much. We want these kids to be able to have a reason to have the hope to stay, to build better regional communities. That's what Scott Buchholz and I are all about, that's what James McGrath and I are all about, that’s what David Littleproud and I are all about, that's what Scott Morrison and the nation are all about. And that's why we're investing heavily in water infrastructure, $3.5 billion dollars. That's why Scott Buchholtz and I yesterday were up in Rockhampton announcing $289.6 million for better roads, safer roads for Queensland. Scott and I were delighted that 92.3 percent of that money is going to regional Queensland. Steve and Annabell, they are the heart and soul of regional Australia. We want them to be their best selves. And that's what we put in the programme under the Drought Communities Programme, under the dog fencing and under the Building Better Regions Fund, which is now open - open to local governments and others to apply for that money. $200 million dollars. $100 million dollars of which is set aside for tourism. We saw in Longreach today, we spoke to the mayor there. We heard just about the visitation numbers, 98 percent of whom are Australians. And we want more Australians, through COVID of course, they can't travel overseas. But they can visit their own country, they can visit the fabulous sites and destinations of regional Queensland and regional Australia. So that's what we're all about, not setting and forgetting, but providing hope, providing the investment. I was really, really pleased to hear Steve and the Prime Minister, talking about how often they’ve shared messages and photos from August 2018 till now. And I'm sure that will go on because the Prime Minister is one who doesn't set and forget, and none of us do in the Liberals and Nationals. And that's why we're back here today and that's why we're delighted to see the progress made. But there's still a long road to go. With that I’ll ask Steve to add to those remarks.</p> <p><strong>MR STEPHEN TULLY, BUNGINDERRY STATION: </strong>Thank you, Scott, very much for coming. It's great to see you back here with the seeds of recovery underway, because I would hate to have you thinking that, you know, we live in a place of, of dirt, not only of dirt, of dust. Because the horizon on that day was just dust as far as you can see, and now we've got the classic crystal clear air. We wouldn’t be here without the fence. We sat down and we had to think about what we're doing. And there was government funding available for the fence, and we built the fence primarily just the family. 130 kilometres of it. That has allowed us to be happy, profitable and positive, even though we've just hit average rain once since then. We are viable, we are continuously adapting to whatever conditions are thrown at us. We believe we have a great future and we are continuously looking to adjust what we do to allow to further drought proof our properties. That’s what [inaudible] to Scott today, and the rest of today, just throw around ideas of what we can do by spending a little bit of money in the right spot, and setting us up to have a very prosperous future and underpinning what happens in a drought. So we don't have to come back here in a disaster when everything is terrible and we are more adaptable to it. That's a never ending process and we look forward to the future. That gives us confidence, that gives the banks confidence, and that gives the kids confidence if they ever want to come back here. That’s my underlying message here.</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Thanks. Well, happy to take some questions?</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, Brendan Murphy said yesterday that he doesn't expect international travel this year. Do you agree with him? And if so, will there be more support for the tourism industry and travel providers?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well I’ll ask Michael also to comment on this, first of all, as we have worked through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've dealt with the information in front of us. We’ve worked with the experts that we have to put in place the best responses. And in doing that, whether it's been JobKeeper or JobSeeker, or the vaccination programme that we're moving towards, testing and tracing programmes, quarantine and all of these things, the decisions we've taken around international borders, all of it has been based on the information and advice that has come through. And the same will be true when we make decisions over the course of this year, particularly when we get to the other side of vaccines having been introduced in Australia, about what will happen with international borders. Now at the moment, that is the Secretary of Health’s assessment, but we'll see how things play out over the course of the year. I mean Michael McCormack makes a very good point. And as you know, prior to being in politics, I've worked in the tourism industry. The domestic tourism industry accounts for about 70 to 80 percent of the overall tourism industry in Australia, thereabouts. It varies by region of course, some areas of the country are more dependent on international tourism than others. But the bread and butter of the tourism industry in Australia has always been the domestic tourism sector. And in this unusual time, Australians who are big overseas travellers are increasingly in a position and will want to more and more and more see their own country. So that's going to have it's obvious impact. The net import effect of tourism in Australia now, being spent in Australia is not only supporting domestic tourism in this country as the country, we work hard to try and keep open, but it is also finding its way into retail spending and other things and keeping that money within Australia. We've demonstrated, I think, over the course of this pandemic, our commitment, whether it's to the tourism industry, small business owners, the hospitality sector, the arts sector, the manufacturing sector, businesses right across the country, we’ve demonstrated that we're serious about ensuring that Australia gets through this in the best possible way. And so our record speaks for itself, where we need to make targeted investments, proportionate, commensurate with the challenge. Well, we've done that. That's been our way of doing things. And so we'll assess those things as we go forward. As we have up until this time, we don't make big promises. We just get it done and we make the decisions about what's necessary after working closely with those in the sector about what is needed. So that's how we'll continue to approach this.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Bill Shorten this morning said-</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>I’ll let Michael make a few comments on it as well.</p> <p><strong>DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Just on international travel, of course, we want to see our international flights resume as soon as possible, but we also want to make sure that we continue to have the health outcomes here in Australia that we've had, we've been the envy of the world when it comes to health outcomes. That’s because we have followed the best advice from the health authorities, from the health experts all the way through, we will continue to work through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, take their advice, take the advice of Professor Paul Kelly, who's of course the chief medical officer and, of course, working through the National Cabinet process. I spoke to Alan Joyce yesterday. He's obviously concerned and they opened up the bookings from July. And of course, they're keen to see international flights resume as soon as possible as are we, as are we. And of course, we've got the vaccine coming out, rolling out from next month. We'll address these situations as they occur from week by week and we’ve done that all the way through, we’ve done it successfully and we’ve kept Australia safe.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, Bill Shorten suggested just on that issue that JobKeeper- would be a good idea to keep JobKeeper for that industry specifically going past March. Is that something you would consider doing a targeted continuation of JobKeeper for this industry?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, one thing I've noticed is the federal Labor Party have tended to play politics both with the pandemic and the recovery. What we will do is we’ll just make the best decisions for Australia based on the best information. We'll target it, we’ll ensure that it’s well thought through. We won't be making commitments ahead of anytime that they would be needed. And we've done that all the way through. We heard the same calls from Labor last time, we changed out of JobKeeper at the end of September and what did we see happen? We saw 450,000 businesses get themselves off JobKeeper and more than 2 million Australians no longer needing taxpayer funded support. Federal Labor said, we're going to go off a cliff. They said it was all going to fall apart. And that's not what Australia needs to hear. What Australia needs is what we've been seeking to do and that is bring Australians together. To provide the support where it's needed, to do that carefully because it's all taxpayers money and we invest it carefully and wisely and proportionately and we work with those sectors to make sure it's done in the most effective way. So I'll let the federal Labor Party engage in the politics of the recovery and I'll just encourage the economics of it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, would you be willing to consider regional support packages like JobKeeper for areas like Cairns which have been traditionally more reliant on international tourism?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, again, I'm not going to pre-empt or fly kites on these things, I don't think that's fair to people, we’ve been always upfront with people about what we're going to do, when we're going to do it and how we're going to do it. And I think that has given the nation a lot of confidence. And so it's not for me to speculate. It's for me to make sound decisions in the country's interests. And that's what we've been doing for the past year. You know, last night I was on a call, as I regularly am with many other leaders last night, the Prime Minister of Israel, the Prime Minister of Norway, and a number of others, Greece, Denmark amongst this group, and Austria that we’ve met with regularly. And to hear what is occurring in Europe, that breaks your heart what they're going through. And it's just reinforced I think the thankful position we are here in Australia with the choices we’ve made and the way that Australians have reacted and supported Australia to come through this, is a great testament to this country and it's being noticed by people around the world. They wish they were us. They really wish they were us. And that is a testimony to the Australian people. But I think also to working together with the states and territories in a very bipartisan way, with the Labor premiers, the Liberal premiers, we’ve all worked together to try and do our best to make the best decisions at the right time. And we'll continue to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>In your conversations with Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, did you have- did you raise their support for Australia in our somewhat difficult relationship at the moment with China, our China relationship?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Our what sorry?</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Was the China relationship discussed? And their support for Australia in that somewhat difficult relationship?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, I was pleased to be able to talk to Vice President Pence this morning and Secretary Pompeo yesterday. I've worked very closely with both of them in particular, along with the Treasury</p> <p>Secretary Mnuchin and the former Defence Secretary Esper. And they have been a key part of how we've managed that relationship over the last many years. And the cornerstone of that has been an understanding of just how important Australia and the United States are to each other, how shared we are in our outlook about things in the world, the threats to that and how we can work positively together to deal with those in both of our national interests and with those of many other like minded countries. So it was an opportunity to thank both Secretary Pompeo and Vice President Pence for the very constructive way that they've supported that relationship and the very open way that they've engaged with me as a Prime Minister and previously with Secretary Mnuchin as a Treasurer. And so we spoke about how important that relationship is now, probably more important than ever, and really welcomed their offers of the engagements they've had with the incoming administration, which, you know, I welcome the fact that despite all the terrible things we've seen there happen, there is been that positive engagement between them and those who are coming in after them. And there is a handover. And one of the things that will be handed over from the current administration, to the new one this week, is the stewardship of that very important relationship between Australia and the United States. As Prime Minister, I have the privilege to steward that from Australia's perspective. The incoming President, President-elect Biden, will join me in that stewardship. And it's incredibly important for our region. It's incredibly important for Australia's interests. And I say it's very important for the United States interest as well.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Do you expect the Biden administration to defend Australia as strongly when there are disputes with China is what the Trump administration did?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>I would expect there would be a continuation of those policy settings that have so favoured the Australian alliance. And that's not new. It's been happening for decades. The alliance between Australia and the United States has known many stewards sitting on both sides of the table as Presidents and Prime Ministers. They've come from all sides of politics. But the one thing that has always brought us together has been our understanding of how strategic and significant the relationship is and the best in that relationship is, as I said to Vice President Pence this morning is still to come.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has raised the prospect of moving quarantine for returning travellers to mining accommodation. Is that something that you'd be willing to consider at National Cabinet on Friday or consider supporting on Friday? And would you have any concerns about it potentially leading to a threat of COVID in regional areas where they don't have the same testing capacity as in the capital city?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Oh, two points. One, I'm meeting with Premier Palaszczuk later this week when I go back through Brisbane, and I'm sure I look forward to having that discussion. I haven't seen that proposal as yet, but I've always been very interested in positive proposals that have come forward from Premiers about how we can best manage what are very challenging issues. I mean, we already have these types of arrangements up in the Northern Territory. That's how the 20 extra flights that I agreed to and and endorsed and acted on with the Deputy Prime Minister on the weekend, that's in addition, I think Michael to some 90 I think we’ve already arranged and many of those, particularly more latterly, are being made possible over and above the caps because of what we've been able to do in the Northern Territory with the Chief Minister Gunner. So I'm very open to these sorts of ideas and I look forward to seeing the proposal and then we'll go from there. I- Premier Palaszczuk knows that my door is always open to those sorts of discussions and I look forward to having them with her.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>When you spoke to Vice President Mike Pence, did you ask at all about or did you speak at all about Donald Trump and his refusal to concede the election at all?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>No.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Will you be speaking to Donald Trump in the remainder of- before he leaves office?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>No, I have no plans to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>And your colleagues, David Littleproud, and Michael McCormack here, they've criticised the Victorian government for, accepting tennis players, but not farm workers. What's your view on that?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, at the December meeting of National Cabinet, we had a very good discussion about the urgent need for seasonal workers and particularly in Victoria. And the Premier raised a number of issues there. And I know there have been some proposals that have come forward. We'd be very interested in progressing those, but that is very much a matter for the Premier. I mean, here in Queensland, there's no partisanship on this. I mean, here in Queensland, they run an on farm quarantine programme. Now, admittedly, that is not in massive numbers, but I think it's a very innovative way of managing that issue. And so we would welcome constructive proposals about how this can be better managed. The agreement we made at the last National Cabinet meeting, we highlighted the need to have some special accommodations around seasonal workers because of the needs and those needs currently, I mean, David, you might want to comment on this, but I believe are most pressing in Victoria at the moment. they really are. And so we'd like to find a way through on this. We really would. But, you know, the tennis open is going ahead too, these things are not mutually exclusive. And, you know, the rules are there. And just just as you have to abide by the rules of the umpire on the court, you've got to abide by the rules of the health officers when it comes to COVID. And so, you know, you can’t call foul on that. That's a pretty fair set of arrangements.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Does it pass the pub test when crops aren't being picked but tennis players are coming in to play a tournament?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, it's not a choice between the two. It doesn't have to be a choice between the two, you know, we're a clever country and we can manage many things at once. And, you know, I think we can manage a tennis open and pick fruit. We should be able to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>But we’re not picking fruit?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well there is fruit being picked by the way, but we want more of it picked. And that is something I hope that we'll be able to work our way through. And I'm sure it'll get some discussion on Friday.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Just for the year ahead, 2021. What can Australians expect?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>2021, what I'm expecting is that Australians will continue to prove their resilience. They will continue to be optimistic about Australia's future, and they will continue to make plans for how they're going to make that future happen. And what they can expect from me and my government is for us to back them in. For us to share their optimism, to share their passion for their futures and to back them in, whether that's young people or indeed those in advanced age who are looking to change careers with the skills training they need, manufacturing businesses will be able to draw on Australia's manufacturing plans. Those who are looking to get home sooner and safer with the road projects that are being done not just in metropolitan areas, but importantly, as Scotty has been working on with the DPM now for many years, to ensure that the regional and rural roads are safer for people as they move around this country, that our businesses will open up again even more than they have already and that we will see the comeback that began in 2020 move to a whole new level in 2021. But that's going to require all of us to keep working together, to keep believing, to stay optimistic, keep pushing forward, just as the Tully’s have here over the last two and a half years. And way longer than that, they have seen the worst of times here. And now they're seeing better times and there are even better times ahead. And I think that's a good way to look out on the end of 2020. Thanks everyone.</p> Littleproud Doorstop interview - Quilpie, Queensland Doorstop interview - Quilpie, Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/doorstop-interview-quilpie-queensland <p><strong>THE HON. DAVID LITTLEPROUD MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, DROUGHT, AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: </strong>Well, thanks for coming. It’s great to be back at the Tully family- can I thank the Tully’s for having us again back here to their property just outside Quilpie. Can I thank the Prime Minister who, his first visit after ascending to the Prime Ministership was to this family property to see the drought. The drought was gripping this part of the world as it gripped most of the country. The Prime Minister made it a priority by coming and seeing it firsthand, understanding the trials and tribulations, but also the hope of these people. And we've now got hope, we've had rain. The federal government has proudly put over $10 billion dollars worth of commitments into the drought programmes and that's for our national drought strategy being for the here and now, giving families support in the here and now through the farm household allowance, giving them some dignity and respect to put bread and butter on the table every day. Also through interest free repayment free loans, to give them the support to get through those hard times. We've also had our second pillar, which is supporting the communities that support these families, making sure that their economic distress is also addressed through the Building Better Regions funds which the Deputy Prime Minister has administered, or the drought community programme being administered by the local government, having local solutions, supporting these communities. And we also look to the future we’re the first government said we need to look for the next drought. The next drought starts the very first day after it finishes raining. And you have to prepare for it and the $5 billion dollar Future Drought Fund is up and going. And $100 million dollars of that is being spent as we speak. And next year's $100 million dollars is being planned as we speak as well. And we've also had the Deputy Prime Minister who’s been passionate about water infrastructure, plumbing the country, investing in the smarts of this country to make sure that we empower our farmers with the tools to be able to continue to produce the best food and fibre in the world. So I'm glad not only to have the Prime Minister, but to have the Deputy Prime Minister with me who has been passionate about this as I have, Scotty Buchholz the Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Transport, who has bitumened a lot of this country by getting out and getting on the road and seeing it. And to Senator McGrath, can I say who is the member for Maranoa while I'm not here. He's done a sensational job in sitting at kitchen tables and getting the real stories of real people like the Tullys. That is what we are here for. Is to address the real concerns, the aspirations, the hopes, not just of Steve and Annabell but their next generation. The story of agriculture is just [inaudible]. We've lost too many generations of young people in the regional and rural Australian agriculture. Our story is a positive one and this is testament to it, this family is testament to it. And this government will stand with them. So Prime Minister, thanks again for coming. It's a real testament to your commitment to people right across regional and rural Australia that you continue to make this a priority.</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Thank you, well David thank you, and particularly to Steve and Annabell and the whole Tully family. It's great to be back here with you, with the DPM- with Michael, who we've stood here together, David, just over two years ago, a bit beyond that in fact. And we looked out at this place and it looked a little bit different back then, in the paddock behind us over here I remember Steve showed me a photo of what it used to look like. When we came last time it was as dry as what is underneath us right now. But at one time it was grass up about here Steve, that’s about right. And what struck me when I first met Steve and Annabell and the family was just how resilient they were, some 6 years into the drought and they're still in drought - there are 41 local government areas here in Queensland which are still in drought. But the comeback here is well and truly underway. Steve had I think around about 5,000 head of sheep here at that time, well below half or more of the carrying capacity here on this property that's been in their family for generations. And they're coming back now, up around 7 - 8,000 now, carrying some from other stations around the place and, and on their way back. And they're diversifying, bringing in goats and they're finding their way through. The dog fencing, which we spoke about last time we came, is making a huge impact here. It's ensuring that the finance flows. These are the practical things which Steve and Annabell and so many of the heroes of our drought have been doing to get Australia through and to get these regions and rural communities through. We're very pleased, the DPM and I and the whole team that’s here, Scotty and James, that the things we've been doing have been backing them in to achieve them. Whether it's been the work through the drought communities programme, through local government areas, particularly here in Quilpie, who backed in the broader dog fencing initiative and ensured that it went right across the shire area here. And so together, all the stations and properties around here have become more resilient. The investments they’ve made in the water infrastructure, you know in the Tully [inaudible] they’ve continued to sow in and as a result they are now looking for [inaudible] more optimism than I encountered when I was here a couple of years ago, and that's a tremendous encouragement, I think, to all of us around the country. This past year, the country has gone through an incredibly tough period of time through COVID-19 but that toughness was no stranger to the Tully's and the many families in rural and regional communities across our country who have been enduring the drought for many, many years. As we come up here today and we visit more of these communities it's great to see the comeback underway and it's great to see how the hope and the optimism that they sewn in to this property and in so many towns and regions like it across Queensland and across Australia, they're starting to see the benefits of that. So we're pleased that those programmes have been working. We're pleased that the delivery on the ground, which has been helping kids to stay in school, the psychological counselling and support which has been so important to to help people get through these difficult times, the practical things like fences and on farm irrigation, or water infrastructure and things of that nature. All of it making a practical difference, but the main ingredient has been the resilience and has been the resourcefulness and has been the optimism and hope of the people themselves. So it's great to be back here, Steve and Annabell. It's great to be here with the kids as well. And I’m glad they’ve had a summer back here at home and to be able to see what's happening, and I really do love that whole new water park thing you’ve got over there Steve, I think that the people down at Roadshow will come and take a bit of a shot of that, I think you never know what you might see at theme parks around Australia. So it's great to be here. I’m going to ask Michael McCormack to say a few words and then Steve Tully’s going to tell you a bit about what the last years have been like. But I do want to leave you with this. While things have improved, there is still a long way to go. And I think that's the story of our country. Things have improved. We are getting through this together, but there is still a long way to go. And that's why the plans that we've got in place to support that recovery, to aid that comeback, are still so important. Michael?</p> <p><strong>THE HON MICHAEL MCCORMACK MP, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: </strong>Thank you Prime Minister, as Liberals and Nationals we don't set and forget. When the Prime Minister came out here with David and I back in August 2018, we saw a landscape vastly different than what we're witnessing today. Dams two thirds full, now there’s a few green shoots on what was once bare earth. I'm really pleased to see Steve and Annabel Tully. I'm even more delighted to see their three children, three of their five children because they are the future. It's the kids who are the future of regional Queensland. It's the kids who are the future of these places, because Steve and Annabell, they can set it up only so much. We want these kids to be able to have a reason to have the hope to stay, to build better regional communities. That's what Scott Buchholz and I are all about, that's what James McGrath and I are all about, that’s what David Littleproud and I are all about, that's what Scott Morrison and the nation are all about. And that's why we're investing heavily in water infrastructure, $3.5 billion dollars. That's why Scott Buchholtz and I yesterday were up in Rockhampton announcing $289.6 million for better roads, safer roads for Queensland. Scott and I were delighted that 92.3 percent of that money is going to regional Queensland. Steve and Annabell, they are the heart and soul of regional Australia. We want them to be their best selves. And that's what we put in the programme under the Drought Communities Programme, under the dog fencing and under the Building Better Regions Fund, which is now open - open to local governments and others to apply for that money. $200 million dollars. $100 million dollars of which is set aside for tourism. We saw in Longreach today, we spoke to the mayor there. We heard just about the visitation numbers, 98 percent of whom are Australians. And we want more Australians, through COVID of course, they can't travel overseas. But they can visit their own country, they can visit the fabulous sites and destinations of regional Queensland and regional Australia. So that's what we're all about, not setting and forgetting, but providing hope, providing the investment. I was really, really pleased to hear Steve and the Prime Minister, talking about how often they’ve shared messages and photos from August 2018 till now. And I'm sure that will go on because the Prime Minister is one who doesn't set and forget, and none of us do in the Liberals and Nationals. And that's why we're back here today and that's why we're delighted to see the progress made. But there's still a long road to go. With that I’ll ask Steve to add to those remarks.</p> <p><strong>MR STEPHEN TULLY, BUNGINDERRY STATION: </strong>Thank you, Scott, very much for coming. It's great to see you back here with the seeds of recovery underway, because I would hate to have you thinking that, you know, we live in a place of, of dirt, not only of dirt, of dust. Because the horizon on that day was just dust as far as you can see, and now we've got the classic crystal clear air. We wouldn’t be here without the fence. We sat down and we had to think about what we're doing. And there was government funding available for the fence, and we built the fence primarily just the family. 130 kilometres of it. That has allowed us to be happy, profitable and positive, even though we've just hit average rain once since then. We are viable, we are continuously adapting to whatever conditions are thrown at us. We believe we have a great future and we are continuously looking to adjust what we do to allow to further drought proof our properties. That’s what [inaudible] to Scott today, and the rest of today, just throw around ideas of what we can do by spending a little bit of money in the right spot, and setting us up to have a very prosperous future and underpinning what happens in a drought. So we don't have to come back here in a disaster when everything is terrible and we are more adaptable to it. That's a never ending process and we look forward to the future. That gives us confidence, that gives the banks confidence, and that gives the kids confidence if they ever want to come back here. That’s my underlying message here.</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Thanks. Well, happy to take some questions?</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, Brendan Murphy said yesterday that he doesn't expect international travel this year. Do you agree with him? And if so, will there be more support for the tourism industry and travel providers?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well I’ll ask Michael also to comment on this, first of all, as we have worked through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've dealt with the information in front of us. We’ve worked with the experts that we have to put in place the best responses. And in doing that, whether it's been JobKeeper or JobSeeker, or the vaccination programme that we're moving towards, testing and tracing programmes, quarantine and all of these things, the decisions we've taken around international borders, all of it has been based on the information and advice that has come through. And the same will be true when we make decisions over the course of this year, particularly when we get to the other side of vaccines having been introduced in Australia, about what will happen with international borders. Now at the moment, that is the Secretary of Health’s assessment, but we'll see how things play out over the course of the year. I mean Michael McCormack makes a very good point. And as you know, prior to being in politics, I've worked in the tourism industry. The domestic tourism industry accounts for about 70 to 80 percent of the overall tourism industry in Australia, thereabouts. It varies by region of course, some areas of the country are more dependent on international tourism than others. But the bread and butter of the tourism industry in Australia has always been the domestic tourism sector. And in this unusual time, Australians who are big overseas travellers are increasingly in a position and will want to more and more and more see their own country. So that's going to have it's obvious impact. The net import effect of tourism in Australia now, being spent in Australia is not only supporting domestic tourism in this country as the country, we work hard to try and keep open, but it is also finding its way into retail spending and other things and keeping that money within Australia. We've demonstrated, I think, over the course of this pandemic, our commitment, whether it's to the tourism industry, small business owners, the hospitality sector, the arts sector, the manufacturing sector, businesses right across the country, we’ve demonstrated that we're serious about ensuring that Australia gets through this in the best possible way. And so our record speaks for itself, where we need to make targeted investments, proportionate, commensurate with the challenge. Well, we've done that. That's been our way of doing things. And so we'll assess those things as we go forward. As we have up until this time, we don't make big promises. We just get it done and we make the decisions about what's necessary after working closely with those in the sector about what is needed. So that's how we'll continue to approach this.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Bill Shorten this morning said-</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>I’ll let Michael make a few comments on it as well.</p> <p><strong>DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Just on international travel, of course, we want to see our international flights resume as soon as possible, but we also want to make sure that we continue to have the health outcomes here in Australia that we've had, we've been the envy of the world when it comes to health outcomes. That’s because we have followed the best advice from the health authorities, from the health experts all the way through, we will continue to work through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, take their advice, take the advice of Professor Paul Kelly, who's of course the chief medical officer and, of course, working through the National Cabinet process. I spoke to Alan Joyce yesterday. He's obviously concerned and they opened up the bookings from July. And of course, they're keen to see international flights resume as soon as possible as are we, as are we. And of course, we've got the vaccine coming out, rolling out from next month. We'll address these situations as they occur from week by week and we’ve done that all the way through, we’ve done it successfully and we’ve kept Australia safe.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, Bill Shorten suggested just on that issue that JobKeeper- would be a good idea to keep JobKeeper for that industry specifically going past March. Is that something you would consider doing a targeted continuation of JobKeeper for this industry?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, one thing I've noticed is the federal Labor Party have tended to play politics both with the pandemic and the recovery. What we will do is we’ll just make the best decisions for Australia based on the best information. We'll target it, we’ll ensure that it’s well thought through. We won't be making commitments ahead of anytime that they would be needed. And we've done that all the way through. We heard the same calls from Labor last time, we changed out of JobKeeper at the end of September and what did we see happen? We saw 450,000 businesses get themselves off JobKeeper and more than 2 million Australians no longer needing taxpayer funded support. Federal Labor said, we're going to go off a cliff. They said it was all going to fall apart. And that's not what Australia needs to hear. What Australia needs is what we've been seeking to do and that is bring Australians together. To provide the support where it's needed, to do that carefully because it's all taxpayers money and we invest it carefully and wisely and proportionately and we work with those sectors to make sure it's done in the most effective way. So I'll let the federal Labor Party engage in the politics of the recovery and I'll just encourage the economics of it.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Prime Minister, would you be willing to consider regional support packages like JobKeeper for areas like Cairns which have been traditionally more reliant on international tourism?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, again, I'm not going to pre-empt or fly kites on these things, I don't think that's fair to people, we’ve been always upfront with people about what we're going to do, when we're going to do it and how we're going to do it. And I think that has given the nation a lot of confidence. And so it's not for me to speculate. It's for me to make sound decisions in the country's interests. And that's what we've been doing for the past year. You know, last night I was on a call, as I regularly am with many other leaders last night, the Prime Minister of Israel, the Prime Minister of Norway, and a number of others, Greece, Denmark amongst this group, and Austria that we’ve met with regularly. And to hear what is occurring in Europe, that breaks your heart what they're going through. And it's just reinforced I think the thankful position we are here in Australia with the choices we’ve made and the way that Australians have reacted and supported Australia to come through this, is a great testament to this country and it's being noticed by people around the world. They wish they were us. They really wish they were us. And that is a testimony to the Australian people. But I think also to working together with the states and territories in a very bipartisan way, with the Labor premiers, the Liberal premiers, we’ve all worked together to try and do our best to make the best decisions at the right time. And we'll continue to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>In your conversations with Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, did you have- did you raise their support for Australia in our somewhat difficult relationship at the moment with China, our China relationship?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Our what sorry?</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Was the China relationship discussed? And their support for Australia in that somewhat difficult relationship?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, I was pleased to be able to talk to Vice President Pence this morning and Secretary Pompeo yesterday. I've worked very closely with both of them in particular, along with the Treasury</p> <p>Secretary Mnuchin and the former Defence Secretary Esper. And they have been a key part of how we've managed that relationship over the last many years. And the cornerstone of that has been an understanding of just how important Australia and the United States are to each other, how shared we are in our outlook about things in the world, the threats to that and how we can work positively together to deal with those in both of our national interests and with those of many other like minded countries. So it was an opportunity to thank both Secretary Pompeo and Vice President Pence for the very constructive way that they've supported that relationship and the very open way that they've engaged with me as a Prime Minister and previously with Secretary Mnuchin as a Treasurer. And so we spoke about how important that relationship is now, probably more important than ever, and really welcomed their offers of the engagements they've had with the incoming administration, which, you know, I welcome the fact that despite all the terrible things we've seen there happen, there is been that positive engagement between them and those who are coming in after them. And there is a handover. And one of the things that will be handed over from the current administration, to the new one this week, is the stewardship of that very important relationship between Australia and the United States. As Prime Minister, I have the privilege to steward that from Australia's perspective. The incoming President, President-elect Biden, will join me in that stewardship. And it's incredibly important for our region. It's incredibly important for Australia's interests. And I say it's very important for the United States interest as well.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Do you expect the Biden administration to defend Australia as strongly when there are disputes with China is what the Trump administration did?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>I would expect there would be a continuation of those policy settings that have so favoured the Australian alliance. And that's not new. It's been happening for decades. The alliance between Australia and the United States has known many stewards sitting on both sides of the table as Presidents and Prime Ministers. They've come from all sides of politics. But the one thing that has always brought us together has been our understanding of how strategic and significant the relationship is and the best in that relationship is, as I said to Vice President Pence this morning is still to come.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has raised the prospect of moving quarantine for returning travellers to mining accommodation. Is that something that you'd be willing to consider at National Cabinet on Friday or consider supporting on Friday? And would you have any concerns about it potentially leading to a threat of COVID in regional areas where they don't have the same testing capacity as in the capital city?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Oh, two points. One, I'm meeting with Premier Palaszczuk later this week when I go back through Brisbane, and I'm sure I look forward to having that discussion. I haven't seen that proposal as yet, but I've always been very interested in positive proposals that have come forward from Premiers about how we can best manage what are very challenging issues. I mean, we already have these types of arrangements up in the Northern Territory. That's how the 20 extra flights that I agreed to and and endorsed and acted on with the Deputy Prime Minister on the weekend, that's in addition, I think Michael to some 90 I think we’ve already arranged and many of those, particularly more latterly, are being made possible over and above the caps because of what we've been able to do in the Northern Territory with the Chief Minister Gunner. So I'm very open to these sorts of ideas and I look forward to seeing the proposal and then we'll go from there. I- Premier Palaszczuk knows that my door is always open to those sorts of discussions and I look forward to having them with her.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>When you spoke to Vice President Mike Pence, did you ask at all about or did you speak at all about Donald Trump and his refusal to concede the election at all?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>No.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Will you be speaking to Donald Trump in the remainder of- before he leaves office?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>No, I have no plans to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>And your colleagues, David Littleproud, and Michael McCormack here, they've criticised the Victorian government for, accepting tennis players, but not farm workers. What's your view on that?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, at the December meeting of National Cabinet, we had a very good discussion about the urgent need for seasonal workers and particularly in Victoria. And the Premier raised a number of issues there. And I know there have been some proposals that have come forward. We'd be very interested in progressing those, but that is very much a matter for the Premier. I mean, here in Queensland, there's no partisanship on this. I mean, here in Queensland, they run an on farm quarantine programme. Now, admittedly, that is not in massive numbers, but I think it's a very innovative way of managing that issue. And so we would welcome constructive proposals about how this can be better managed. The agreement we made at the last National Cabinet meeting, we highlighted the need to have some special accommodations around seasonal workers because of the needs and those needs currently, I mean, David, you might want to comment on this, but I believe are most pressing in Victoria at the moment. they really are. And so we'd like to find a way through on this. We really would. But, you know, the tennis open is going ahead too, these things are not mutually exclusive. And, you know, the rules are there. And just just as you have to abide by the rules of the umpire on the court, you've got to abide by the rules of the health officers when it comes to COVID. And so, you know, you can’t call foul on that. That's a pretty fair set of arrangements.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Does it pass the pub test when crops aren't being picked but tennis players are coming in to play a tournament?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well, it's not a choice between the two. It doesn't have to be a choice between the two, you know, we're a clever country and we can manage many things at once. And, you know, I think we can manage a tennis open and pick fruit. We should be able to do that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>But we’re not picking fruit?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>Well there is fruit being picked by the way, but we want more of it picked. And that is something I hope that we'll be able to work our way through. And I'm sure it'll get some discussion on Friday.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST: </strong>Just for the year ahead, 2021. What can Australians expect?</p> <p><strong>PRIME MINISTER: </strong>2021, what I'm expecting is that Australians will continue to prove their resilience. They will continue to be optimistic about Australia's future, and they will continue to make plans for how they're going to make that future happen. And what they can expect from me and my government is for us to back them in. For us to share their optimism, to share their passion for their futures and to back them in, whether that's young people or indeed those in advanced age who are looking to change careers with the skills training they need, manufacturing businesses will be able to draw on Australia's manufacturing plans. Those who are looking to get home sooner and safer with the road projects that are being done not just in metropolitan areas, but importantly, as Scotty has been working on with the DPM now for many years, to ensure that the regional and rural roads are safer for people as they move around this country, that our businesses will open up again even more than they have already and that we will see the comeback that began in 2020 move to a whole new level in 2021. But that's going to require all of us to keep working together, to keep believing, to stay optimistic, keep pushing forward, just as the Tully’s have here over the last two and a half years. And way longer than that, they have seen the worst of times here. And now they're seeing better times and there are even better times ahead. And I think that's a good way to look out on the end of 2020. Thanks everyone.</p> McCormack Doorstop interview - Quilpie, Queensland Road safety funding flows to Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/buchholz/media-release/road-safety-funding-flows-queensland <p>New road safety upgrades and jobs will be delivered right across Queensland with the Australian and Queensland Governments unlocking close to $300 million in additional funding.</p> <p>The Australian Government announced today it has approved $225 million for Queensland under tranche one of the $2 billion Road Safety Program, joining a further $64.6 million to be provided by the Queensland Government.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the additional works are required to begin and finish by 30 June 2021, improving safety and supporting around 950 jobs in Queensland.</p> <p>“This funding will deliver key lifesaving improvements such as shoulder sealing, rumble strips to alert drivers they are moving out of their lane, median treatments to prevent head-on collisions and barriers to prevent run-off-road crashes and protect against roadside hazards,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>“Of this $289.6 million, $267.4 million has been earmarked for regional Queensland demonstrating the substantial focus we are placing on our regional communities.</p> <p>“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and the Australian Government is playing our part by investing heavily in road safety upgrades across Queensland.</p> <p>“This is all about getting Queenslanders home sooner and safer whilst we also create more jobs during this difficult economic time.</p> <p>“Communities such as Rockhampton will benefit through projects such as upgrading intersections and roadside widening on the Bruce Highway at Nielsen Avenue and projects to improve safety for vulnerable road users on various sections of the Bruce Highway.</p> <p>“These build on major existing investments such as the $158 million Rockhampton Northern Access Upgrade, which will increase safety and reduce travel times by increasing the capacity on the Bruce Highway to four lanes.”</p> <p>Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Ryan said the joint funding announcement would see another 87 projects across Queensland started and completed within the next six months, creating close to 1,000 jobs and safer roads for families, businesses and industry.</p> <p>"It means just over a year, the Queensland and Australian governments have delivered more than $5 billion in stimulus to build roads and create jobs as part the state’s economic recovery plan,” Mr Ryan said.</p> <p>“Last year was one of the worst when it comes to number lives lost on our roads – so to be able make our roads safer sooner while also supporting employment in our regional communities is a great outcome as we enter the new year.</p> <p>“These projects will add to the record $26.9 billion in roads and transport projects being delivered by the Queensland Government over the next four years, and our real jointly-funded $12.6 billion Bruce Highway plan.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said road safety was a key priority for the Australian Government and this investment in road upgrades would provide a boost to the economy while ensuring Australians can get home sooner and safer.</p> <p>“Making our roads safer is a critical component of our work to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads and move towards achieving Vision Zero – or no deaths or serious injuries on our roads,” Mr Buchholz said.</p> <p>“Projects are already underway through the $500 million Targeted Road Safety COVID-19 stimulus package and this additional funding complements that work, resulting in an even greater roll-out of improved infrastructure and roads right across the nation.</p> <p>“Queensland unfortunately saw a 26 per cent increase in road deaths in 2020, despite the falls in traffic due to the pandemic.</p> <p>“We know we must do better – and this funding is part of our Government’s unwavering commitment to doing our bit to get all Queenslanders home sooner and safer.”</p> <p>Queensland Assistant Regional Roads Minister Bruce Saunders said the list of projects would see intersections with a high crash history made safer, roads widened and more dirt roads sealed.</p> <p>“These types of projects play an important part in supporting our industries right across Queensland, in particular those industries that rely on our regional roads to transport goods,” Mr Saunders said.</p> <p>“They build on major projects already being delivered like the $480 million Bruce Highway upgrade south of Cairns, the $1 billion Gympie Bypass and $514.3 million Bruce upgrade south of Townsville.</p> <p>“The works will give new opportunities for businesses as we continue to recover from COVID-19 and spark more jobs in industries like construction, traffic management and engineering.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she was pleased to see a number of vital projects in Central Queensland – both small and large – would benefit from the Federal Government’s funding for road safety projects.</p> <p>“All of the works undertaken will mean better and safer roads, including improving lighting and widening busy roads to ease traffic congestion and hazards,” Ms Landry said.</p> <p>“Rockhampton is the gateway to northern Australia, and we are committed to investing much-needed funds in ensuring the safety of our roads.”</p> <p>Queensland Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke welcomed the joint funding, with a number of projects to be delivered in Central Queensland, including upgrades to the Capricorn Highway and Bruce Highway. </p> <p>“Our community has already been reaping the benefits of major upgrades like the $75 million Capricorn Highway duplication and Rockhampton Northern Access upgrade, plus a pipeline of future projects like the $1 billion Rocky Ring Road,” Mr O’Rourke said.</p> <p>“With billions of dollars being injected into Queensland’s economy thanks to local businesses and industry, making our supply chains continue to see sustained and additional investment is a welcome outcome for jobs and for the thousands of families who live here.”</p> <p>The Australian Government’s funding for the Road Safety Program will deliver lifesaving measures on regional roads and to protect vulnerable road users across the Queensland while also supporting local jobs and providing a welcome boost to local economies.</p> <p>The funding is subject to “use it or lose it” provisions which require States and Territories to use their notionally allocated funds within a timeframe, or those funds can be reallocated to projects in other jurisdictions. The program will be delivered in three, six-month tranches.</p> <p>In total, the Australian Government has approved up to $225 million and the Queensland Government a further $64.6 million to fund the state-wide upgrades.</p> <p>For more information on the Australian Government’s road safety initiatives, visit <a href="http://www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au">www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au</a>. </p> <h2><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p>Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p>Minister Ryan – Toby Walker 0439 347 875</p> <p>Assistant Minister Buchholz – Josh Christian 0439 897 926</p> <p>Assistant Minister Landry – Tom Birkbeck 0418 908 159</p> <p>Assistant Minister Saunders – 07 4114 1100</p> <p>Mr Barry O’Rourke – 07 4994 2100</p> Buchholz Road safety funding flows to Queensland Kingaroy to be transformed https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/kingaroy-be-transformed <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Kingaroy residents are set to benefit from improved infrastructure in the town centre, thanks to a $4.5 million Australian Government investment.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project, which will revitalise Haly, Kingaroy, Glendon and Alford Streets, would create long-term economic benefits for the region.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The Kingaroy Transformation project will boost Kingaroy’s economy, and is expected to support 38 jobs during construction and create 10 ongoing jobs for the Kingaroy community,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The project will support local suppliers, improve transport links and raise tourist spending.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“We know how vital this is for our regional communities suffering the effects of COVID-19, which is why we will continue to deliver community infrastructure projects that support local jobs and economies across the country at a time when it’s needed most.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said Kingaroy’s transformation would bring the community together through an attractive new streetscape.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The streets will get better foot paths and crosswalks with shady trees and alfresco outdoor structures and improved parking and landscaping,” Mr Littleproud said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The CBD will also be able to host large and small community events and provide visitors a safe, accessible and inviting environment in which to shop, eat and relax.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said Council acknowledged the significant support provided by the Australian Government.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The Kingaroy community is excited to see the benefits from the transformation project, which will revitalise the South Burnett region and give the community a sense of pride,” Cr Otto said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The transformation will lead to improved safety for vehicles and pedestrians, improved lighting and will create a lively town centre that will serve the Kingaroy community and wider region.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">The project is jointly funded with the Australian Government and South Burnett Regional Council each committing $4.5 million.  </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Australian Government contribution is funded under its Building Better Regions Fund. This is a $1.04 billion investment designed to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.</p> <h2 class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Mr Littleproud – Douglas Ferguson 0455 448 985</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Cr Otto – (07) 4189 9100</p> McCormack Kingaroy to be transformed Transcript - Press Conference in Rockhampton, Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/transcript-press-conference-rockhampton-queensland <div><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY </strong></div> <div> <div class="WordSection1"> <p class="CxSpMiddle">It’s great to be out here on the Bruce Highway today and see all these roadworks that are going ahead. The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, is here, Scott Buchholz, who’s the Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Barry O’Rourke, the Member for Rockhampton from the State Government. And we’re here today to talk about road safety. The Federal Government is putting another $300 million into road safety across Australia and here in Capricornia we’re receiving over $40 million for road safety projects. And they’re projects around Rockhampton – Emu Park Road – up at Collinsville, out at Moranbah, Nebo areas, so there’s going to be lots of work done and it’s all to help with road safety. As we see over the Christmas period, there’s a lot of people being killed in car accidents. So things like those middle lanes, you know, to have the sound markings on the side of the road, all of those things help. And we’re seeing at the moment that there is a lot of road traffic. People are travelling in Australia, so anything that we can do in conjunction with the State Government is going to help this. So I’ll now pass over to Barry.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>BARRY O’ROURKE</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Morning. Barry O’Rourke, Member for Rockhampton. I welcome this funding. It is great to see, this initiative coming to Central Queensland. And anything to do with safety, to reduce the number of lives lost is so important. It’s also the jobs that this creates within our own community. We’ve had so many major road projects on the go at the present time – the Northern Access Road, the Gracemere duplication, we’ve got future works down the track with the Rockhampton Ring Road. This is supporting our local businesses and providing product and services, which is great for our local community and the jobs that it creates.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Scotty Buchholz, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport. Great to be here in Rockhampton today and can I tell everyone from the Electorate of Capricornia: do not stand between a bucket of money and Michelle Landry. Yet again she has delivered for this region. On top of the roadworks we drove past getting to this announcement today, Michelle has secured another $40 million out of a $290 million first tranche coming to Queensland, of which the Federal Government is kicking in $225 million. It’s one of those ‘use it or lose its’ and as Michelle rightly said, these are simple investments that we can make to save lives. These roads are proven that once we make these investments we see a 30 per cent reduction in critical injury and life lost.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Can I say that the widening of shoulders so that we can put audible lines, so that when you drive off the road there’s that split second to remind you to get back on, the median strips placed into the middle of the road to give that room for error a little bit more are all infrastructure investments that we know deliver and save lives. Michelle Landry is doing an amazing job delivering for Capricornia and this, again, is yet another project where she’s bringing home the bacon and saving lives for Capricornia.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, it’s great to be here with Michelle Landry, the hard-working Member for Capricornia. Also good to be here with Barry O’Rourke and of course, Scott Buchholz, doing a mighty job in freight transport, in road safety right across the nation. This is Queensland’s turn. We’ve got a $2 billion fund. Now as Scott has just mentioned, this is the first tranche. This is Queensland’s turn – $289.6 million. Importantly – very importantly – critically, 92.3 per cent of the around $290 million is being spent in regional Queensland – in regional Queensland. That’s what you get when you get a Liberal Nationals Government in Canberra committed to the regions. That’s what you get when you get a Liberal Nationals Government committed to working with the Queensland Government. And I’m happy to work with Barry. I’m happy to work with Mark Bailey, Mark Ryan – anybody – to get infrastructure built. And that’s what we’re doing. It’s a successful co-operation, a successful collaboration. It’s Governments working together for the common cause. And that is, as Scott Buchholz has just said, saving lives. That is, as Michelle Landry has just said, building better roads, better infrastructure.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And right across the nation we’ve got $110 billion – a record amount of money – we’re spending on infrastructure. And we’re doing it with Governments. Doesn’t matter the political persuasion; it’s getting work done to help communities. It’s getting work done. You can see it all around, work that Michelle Landry has fought for, has striven so hard for when she gets down to Canberra to save lives, to make sure that we’ve got those road safety measures in place. And whether it’s the Yamba Road‑Neilsen Avenue intersection, whether it’s the $40 million that will be spread across this region, across the Capricornia Electorate, indeed, top that on as well with the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure money and there’s millions upon millions dollars also rolling out in this region. And you can see why there’s a lot of roadworks going on.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">But it’s also supporting, just in this road safety package, a thousand jobs for Queensland. And most of those jobs are going to be in regional Queensland. Most of those jobs are going to be local workers. And of course, that feeds into local businesses, local procurement. And so the café just down the road or just along that way, they’ll be selling more egg and bacon rolls. They’ll be selling more coffee for the workers who will be on site. That’s what it’s all about. And infrastructure, construction and regional Queensland are going to lead this nation and help this nation through the back end of COVID-19. And that’s what it’s all about – boots on the ground, shovels in the ground, jobs at the ready, building better roads for more road safety options.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Deputy PM, there’s been some concerns raised over the storage of the Pfizer vaccine and temperatures.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I’m happy to take any questions you like, but are there any questions about this particular strategy, this particular program or project today? Happy to take those first and then I’m more than happy to take your vaccine questions.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Can you specifically detail how many jobs, how many workers, this project will support?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, I’m going to say, given the fact that there’s thousands of jobs right across – or a thousand jobs right across Queensland, that’s many, many dozens right here. Of course, the Queensland Government in conjunction with the Federal Government are rolling the program out right now. And as Scott Buchholz has said, it’s a use it or lose it, so there’s a hard deadline of June 30 –</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">First of three tranches.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Thank you, Scott, first of three tranches. So when we get this first tranche out of the road and the $290 million spent, then we’ll get on to the second tranche. And I know that Capricornia and other electorates will benefit from that. But you can see here how many workers there are about. You can see how many are in hi-vis and that number will grow enormously in coming weeks and months as the Queensland Government, which does the tendering and contracting, they get the delivery out the door. They want to spend it. I know how keen Barry is and how keen the two Marks are to spend this money, because they know if they don’t spend it, it will go to a State which will spend it. So Queensland wants to get its fair share. I know, I’ve got every faith in Queensland’s ability to be able to deliver this program and happy to work with the Queensland Government to do just that.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Are these projects undertaken with flood mitigation into account?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, they take everything into account. Obviously engineering goes into these things. And I can say that the Commonwealth writes a very big cheque, the Queensland Government then does the tendering and the contracting. There’s always the right environmental impact statements, there’s always flood mitigation, engineering aspects taken into account for all of these projects and programs. That’s always the case. But what it also means is jobs on the ground, shovels at the ready. And that’s why these are shovel ready. The Queensland Government identified them last year. Very much worked hand in glove with the Queensland Department, the Main Roads Department, as well as the Minister to bring about this development.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">How important is it for Central Queensland in particular to get such a large part of this funding when we’ve got one of the worst and highest rates of fatalities in the State?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, you’ve just summed it up. I mean, it’s about road safety and given the fact that the road toll is not anywhere near what it should be. It should be zero. It should be zero. But as we’ve seen last year, despite COVID-19 and a lot cars not even being on the road, a lot of travel not being done, the road toll was higher than the year before and that is very sad. That is very unnecessary. That is very unfortunate and that’s why we’re investing heavily. And part of our road infrastructure rollout, every dollar spent has a road safety aspect and component built into that particular investment by the Commonwealth. And that’s why Scott Buchholz works night and day with portfolio responsibilities for road safety to make sure that we work towards that Vision Zero and that we achieve those outcomes sooner rather than later.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">As part of this planning, will anything be done about fatigue, especially when we’ve got such a large stretch between Mackay and our region and there is a lot of fatalities in that area, there is a lot of fatigue and there are a lot of deaths.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, we are actually rolling out even more money. And Scott Buchholz has just reminded me – it’s $7.8 million for Driver Revivers – more sites, more people on the ground, more places for people to stop when they are travelling. We want people to take those breaks when needed. Absolutely don’t drive when fatigued. It’s as bad as driving when you’ve got substances in your system. Don’t drive when you’re tired. Pull over. Have that kip and because of the Government’s investment in this area, there’ll be more and better Driver Reviver sites to pull over, have that break, meet someone friendly from elsewhere in the State or the nation and get that refresh.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">There has been some concerns raised over the storage of the Pfizer vaccine at low temperatures. What impact do you think there will be for that roll in regional and remote communities?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">We will take the best possible advice, as we have all the way through, through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, through Professor Paul Kelly who, of course, is the Chief Medical Offers and Brendan Murphy who was the CMO before him and is now doing a fantastic job in health. And Greg Hunt the Minister has taken all the way through the best possible medical advice. We will act on that advice. We will get the rollout happening, of course, to the vulnerable, to the aged, to Aboriginal and Indigenous communities. We want to make sure that abattoir workers are a priority. Because we all need food, we all need that food processing, those workers in that important industry, to be able to get the jab and to be able to get in amongst the first to be able to receive it. Of course, we’ve said, that when the Therapeutic Goods Administration approval’s done we will start rolling out the vaccine in February. We haven’t got all our eggs in the one basket. We’ve got other options. We’ve got several options. We’re working through the TGA, we’re working through the best possible medical advice to get those vaccines out as soon as we can, but when it is absolutely safe to do so. That’s been what we’ve done all the way through.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">On that, there is some concern after approximately 30 people died recently in Norway after receiving the Pfizer jab. I mean, what is the health advice on that?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">That’s why Greg Hunt asked DFAT, asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to enquire of the company, enquire of Norwegian health officials, to see exactly the case there. These people who have unfortunately passed away – they already had longstanding health complications and issues. But we will not, we will not place Australians’ lives in jeopardy. We will do the vaccine rollout according to the best possible medical advice. We’ll be working through with the Norwegian authorities and with the company and through DFAT and through TGA processes at the moment to find out exactly what transpired there in Norway. And as I say, I know there are a lot of businesses, a lot of Australians, a lot of people, are relying on this vaccine, are relying on the rollout and relying on having a better 2021 than was, indeed, 2020.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">So there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not easy. I appreciate there are a lot of things go on, but rest assured, we’ve done magnificently as a nation, as a country. And I say to Australians: thank you for being your best selves. Right throughout 2020, largely, Australians did the right thing – they isolated, they practiced social distancing, they wore masks. They did everything that was asked of them by and large. And that is why we’ve had only 909 deaths. And those 909 deaths are mourned, they are certainly not forgotten, right from James Kwan, the very first in Perth on March 1 right the way through. Very, very sad for those families who didn’t have a loved one around the Christmas dinner table this festive season. But we will continue to work with States and Territories. We will continue to work with the AHPPC and TGA and others to make sure that we’ve got the health implications sorted and to make sure that we keep Australians safe.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">What’s your reaction to the Premier’s suggestion to turn working camps into potential COVID quarantine hubs for travellers. Do you think this will be supported at National Cabinet on Friday?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, this is very much the remit of Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland Government. I’ve been a proponent of other options other than just capital city quarantining. I think if we’re going to get seasonal workers into place to pick fruit and do other jobs – certainly the resource industry is an industry that could well do with workers as well – but those workers need to have proven negative to a COVID test, even before they get on a plane to come to Australia. The quarantining has to be rigid. It has to be absolutely above reproach. And that’s unfortunately what went wrong in Victoria and more than 800 of the 909 deaths occurred in that Victorian outbreak. So so long as there’s the right security, we’ve got Australian Defence Force personnel at the ready to assist. The Commonwealth is always happy to assist States and Territories. We’ve got 1,500 ADF personnel right throughout the nation at the moment assisting States and assisting Territories with quarantining and other measures.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">But it has to be the right health, it has to be the right security measures over any quarantining because we don’t want to place, as Michelle Landry has quite correctly pointed out, vulnerable regional communities which don’t have perhaps the health and medical services at the ready, we can’t place them at risk. So if we’re going to quarantine in regional areas, it has to be above reproach. We have to make sure we get those right outcomes. Yes, it will be discussed at the next National Cabinet meeting, I’m sure. And is very much the remit of the Queensland Government.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Are there any locations that you can flag with us that these mining camps are potentially being considered?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Again, it is the remit of the Queensland State Government. So I’ll leave the Queensland Government to perhaps answer that question.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Should the Victorian Government have allowed international tennis players and coaches to quarantine in Melbourne when there are still tens of thousands of Australians stuck overseas?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, I know that we’re doing everything that we can to get returning Australians home. And since March 13 last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison implored, encouraged and perhaps even begged Australians to come home before we had very much a shutdown of international aviation, since March 13 we’ve had 143,000 Australians return. Since September 18 we’ve had more than 71,000 return when certainly the Government has helped with then and now with 20 more Government facilitated flights from places such as India, Europe, indeed, Asia and other places where vulnerable Australians are. There are 37,000 registered with DFAT. We want to get as many of them home as possible. Of course, we’ve had to restrict quarantining. I know the States and Territories have reduced quarantining by half because of the UK strain, which is very virulent. I know that the 20 Government-facilitated flights are going to Howard Springs, Canberra and Hobart and that will be above the cap for the quarantine that has been in place in recent weeks.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">But we’ll work with States and Territories to get as many Australians home. The matter of the Australian tennis open is very much a matter for the Victorian Government. I appreciate that the Australian Open tennis is a big event for that State – a big event for our nation. But I say, too, to those tennis players who are complaining – and I note that there was one from Romania who was complaining about being stuck behind, you know, behind closed doors. And, yes, it is tough. It’s tough for all of us. But if you look at the situation in Romania, they’ve had a lot more deaths than have had Australia. So that’s why I appreciate her plight, I appreciate the tennis players, it’s hard when they’re stuck in a room and unable to train and get all that and then come out and play in, you know, a grand slam tournament, that must be very, very difficult. But far better to be stuck behind closed doors and being forced to endure those conditions, which many Australians have, than being in an ICU bed some weeks from now.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">So we want to keep Australians safe. We want, of course, to make sure that we keep all Australians safe. And I say again, too, it is also very frustrating if you are a stone fruit grower in Mildura, for example. I’ve spoken to many farmers in the Sunraysia whose fruit can’t get picked because the Victorian Government has placed those restrictions on seasonal workers and won’t allow on-farm quarantining as the Queensland Government has done. And they’ve been very hard and fast about that and yet $38 million of produce has been left to rot whilst, yes, tennis players have been allowed into the country. It’s very hard. I understand this is a matter for the Victorian Government. Perhaps they’re best to answer those questions.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Going back to those 20 repatriation flights, can you confirm that these flights will be facilitated by Qantas or other commercial airlines and where are they flying in from?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, Australian airlines will be given first priority, of course. But we want to make sure that we provide that ability to get as many Australians home. And as we’ve done all the way through, we’ve looked at the aviation sector. We’ve provided $2 billion of assistance and we’ve tweaked our measures of assistance all the way through, whether it’s through the domestic services support that we’ve put in place, whether it’s the regional support that we’ve put in place, we’ve tweaked it all the way through to ensure that vulnerable communities which would otherwise not have received airline services have been able to do so.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes, we will put Australian companies first. They will be coming from, as I said earlier, Asia – (yelling from passers-by) see all the support we’re getting for the road projects investment we’re putting in place. It’s great to hear motorists very appreciative of it. That often happens in these sorts of interviews where motorists sing out their support and their cheers for what we’re doing as a Government.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">But just in final answer to your question, they’ll be coming from the UK, Asia, Europe and anywhere elsewhere there are vulnerable Australians we can put on a plane to get them home.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">One final one from me: the regional tech hub that helps people with broadband problems launched late last year has already been swamped with massive inquiries. Do you think it needs more funding?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">We always look at making sure that we provide more funding for telecommunications, whether it’s mobile black spots, whether it’s broadband. I know Paul Fletcher has done a sterling job in this regard considering the mishmash it was when we first took Government in 2013. And we’ll continue to do that. One of the bright upsides of what we saw last year with so many people having to work from home was the fact that the internet service held up pretty well and many people were able to actually do Zoom meetings and other teleconferences from their lounge rooms and other places from home. And, indeed, they might as well have been in the boardroom in Brisbane. I say to those people, come to a region. Look at the options out here in the regions, because they are – you can have a great lifestyle. You don’t have to actually be stuck in banked up in traffic and looking at the taillights in front of you, the brake lights in front of you, for hours getting to and from work. You can live in a place like Rockhampton. You can have the very best of lives. You can have a great home and a big backyard and a swimming pool and your kids will grow up in the very best of environments. These communities out here in regional Queensland are large enough in which to get a good cup of coffee and small enough to still care.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Sorry, Michelle, just a quick one for you – apologies everybody – just coming in from down south, can you tell us what shovel-ready major projects there are for the broader Mackay and Morangay area that you were touching on before?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes, so up in Mackay the Wolviston Bypass has started up there. And there’s also money being put aside for I believe the Nebo area and also the Collinsville Road. So they’re safety upgrades as well as upgrades like the Wolviston Bypass is a $120 million project and that is proceeding. That had to wait until after the Mackay Ring Road was completed before that got started. So certainly a lot of work and there’s also been more passing lanes between Rockhampton and Sarina, which is very important. I know that we talk a lot about we like to see four lanes, you know, from the top of Queensland down to Brisbane and that would be great. I’ve been travelling a bit over the break on the Bruce Highway and you certainly see the difference it makes when you have four lanes and lots of passing lanes. So something that, you know, we’re always pushing for because it’s all about road safety.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And, Michelle, I’ll also just get your reaction to also the Premier suggesting that mining workers camps in regional Queensland should be COVID hubs. I mean, how do you support that?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Look, I know the Deputy Prime Minister is talking about people coming in with, you know, with agriculture is very important. But the feedback that I’ve received from the mining community and the tourism community is that we don’t want people up here with COVID. Okay if people test negative, but I think that there is a lot of difficulties in this area with, you know, lack of health resources and also how many flights they would have to take to get here. So, you know, I’m elected by the people of Capricornia so I stand up for the people of Capricornia. So, no, I don’t want to see any of the mining communities with COVID camps.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Can I just offer one last comment about road safety issue as we lead into the Australia Day long weekend we’re going to have additional traffic and that on the road and given this is a road safety announcement this morning. Can I just say that Governments of all persuasions – Federal and State – do their part to ensure that the roads that we drive on are of the best possible quality with the amount of money we’ve got. Never before in history has a Government – Federally, State – spent more money on road infrastructure than what we are doing right at this moment. More subtly, the cars that we drive on the road, the engineering standards, the Australian standards for importers are now higher than they have ever been before. So as Governments of all persuasions, we can provide road infrastructure and safer cars. But ultimately we’re still losing lives and those lives are unfortunately they can be prevented – or fortunately they can be prevented. So when you get behind a car or a motorbike, make sure that you’re not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, seat belts on, keep to the speed limit, drive to the conditions. What we’re seeing more and more is driver distraction is playing its role in fatal and serious injuries. So when you get on your motorbike or get behind the wheel of a car, remember, it’s a long weekend coming up. It’s your opportunity to take responsibility for everyone in a motor car to get them home safely.</p> </div> </div> McCormack Transcript - Press Conference in Rockhampton, Queensland Kingaroy to be transformed https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/littleproud/media-release/kingaroy-be-transformed <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Kingaroy residents are set to benefit from improved infrastructure in the town centre, thanks to a $4.5 million Australian Government investment.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project, which will revitalise Haly, Kingaroy, Glendon and Alford Streets, would create long-term economic benefits for the region.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The Kingaroy Transformation project will boost Kingaroy’s economy, and is expected to support 38 jobs during construction and create 10 ongoing jobs for the Kingaroy community,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The project will support local suppliers, improve transport links and raise tourist spending.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“We know how vital this is for our regional communities suffering the effects of COVID-19, which is why we will continue to deliver community infrastructure projects that support local jobs and economies across the country at a time when it’s needed most.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said Kingaroy’s transformation would bring the community together through an attractive new streetscape.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The streets will get better foot paths and crosswalks with shady trees and alfresco outdoor structures and improved parking and landscaping,” Mr Littleproud said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The CBD will also be able to host large and small community events and provide visitors a safe, accessible and inviting environment in which to shop, eat and relax.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said Council acknowledged the significant support provided by the Australian Government.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The Kingaroy community is excited to see the benefits from the transformation project, which will revitalise the South Burnett region and give the community a sense of pride,” Cr Otto said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The transformation will lead to improved safety for vehicles and pedestrians, improved lighting and will create a lively town centre that will serve the Kingaroy community and wider region.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">The project is jointly funded with the Australian Government and South Burnett Regional Council each committing $4.5 million.  </p> <p>The Australian Government contribution is funded under its Building Better Regions Fund. This is a $1.04 billion investment designed to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.</p> <h2 class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Mr Littleproud – Douglas Ferguson 0455 448 985</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Cr Otto – (07) 4189 9100</p> Littleproud Kingaroy to be transformed Road safety funding flows to Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/road-safety-funding-flows-queensland <p>New road safety upgrades and jobs will be delivered right across Queensland with the Australian and Queensland Governments unlocking close to $300 million in additional funding.</p> <p>The Australian Government announced today it has approved $225 million for Queensland under tranche one of the $2 billion Road Safety Program, joining a further $64.6 million to be provided by the Queensland Government.</p> <p>Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the additional works are required to begin and finish by 30 June 2021, improving safety and supporting around 950 jobs in Queensland.</p> <p>“This funding will deliver key lifesaving improvements such as shoulder sealing, rumble strips to alert drivers they are moving out of their lane, median treatments to prevent head-on collisions and barriers to prevent run-off-road crashes and protect against roadside hazards,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p>“Of this $289.6 million, $267.4 million has been earmarked for regional Queensland demonstrating the substantial focus we are placing on our regional communities.</p> <p>“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and the Australian Government is playing our part by investing heavily in road safety upgrades across Queensland.</p> <p>“This is all about getting Queenslanders home sooner and safer whilst we also create more jobs during this difficult economic time.</p> <p>“Communities such as Rockhampton will benefit through projects such as upgrading intersections and roadside widening on the Bruce Highway at Nielsen Avenue and projects to improve safety for vulnerable road users on various sections of the Bruce Highway.</p> <p>“These build on major existing investments such as the $158 million Rockhampton Northern Access Upgrade, which will increase safety and reduce travel times by increasing the capacity on the Bruce Highway to four lanes.”</p> <p>Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Ryan said the joint funding announcement would see another 87 projects across Queensland started and completed within the next six months, creating close to 1,000 jobs and safer roads for families, businesses and industry.</p> <p>"It means just over a year, the Queensland and Australian governments have delivered more than $5 billion in stimulus to build roads and create jobs as part the state’s economic recovery plan,” Mr Ryan said.</p> <p>“Last year was one of the worst when it comes to number lives lost on our roads – so to be able make our roads safer sooner while also supporting employment in our regional communities is a great outcome as we enter the new year.</p> <p>“These projects will add to the record $26.9 billion in roads and transport projects being delivered by the Queensland Government over the next four years, and our real jointly-funded $12.6 billion Bruce Highway plan.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said road safety was a key priority for the Australian Government and this investment in road upgrades would provide a boost to the economy while ensuring Australians can get home sooner and safer.</p> <p>“Making our roads safer is a critical component of our work to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads and move towards achieving Vision Zero – or no deaths or serious injuries on our roads,” Mr Buchholz said.</p> <p>“Projects are already underway through the $500 million Targeted Road Safety COVID-19 stimulus package and this additional funding complements that work, resulting in an even greater roll-out of improved infrastructure and roads right across the nation.</p> <p>“Queensland unfortunately saw a 26 per cent increase in road deaths in 2020, despite the falls in traffic due to the pandemic.</p> <p>“We know we must do better – and this funding is part of our Government’s unwavering commitment to doing our bit to get all Queenslanders home sooner and safer.”</p> <p>Queensland Assistant Regional Roads Minister Bruce Saunders said the list of projects would see intersections with a high crash history made safer, roads widened and more dirt roads sealed.</p> <p>“These types of projects play an important part in supporting our industries right across Queensland, in particular those industries that rely on our regional roads to transport goods,” Mr Saunders said.</p> <p>“They build on major projects already being delivered like the $480 million Bruce Highway upgrade south of Cairns, the $1 billion Gympie Bypass and $514.3 million Bruce upgrade south of Townsville.</p> <p>“The works will give new opportunities for businesses as we continue to recover from COVID-19 and spark more jobs in industries like construction, traffic management and engineering.”</p> <p>Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she was pleased to see a number of vital projects in Central Queensland – both small and large – would benefit from the Federal Government’s funding for road safety projects.</p> <p>“All of the works undertaken will mean better and safer roads, including improving lighting and widening busy roads to ease traffic congestion and hazards,” Ms Landry said.</p> <p>“Rockhampton is the gateway to northern Australia, and we are committed to investing much-needed funds in ensuring the safety of our roads.”</p> <p>Queensland Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke welcomed the joint funding, with a number of projects to be delivered in Central Queensland, including upgrades to the Capricorn Highway and Bruce Highway. </p> <p>“Our community has already been reaping the benefits of major upgrades like the $75 million Capricorn Highway duplication and Rockhampton Northern Access upgrade, plus a pipeline of future projects like the $1 billion Rocky Ring Road,” Mr O’Rourke said.</p> <p>“With billions of dollars being injected into Queensland’s economy thanks to local businesses and industry, making our supply chains continue to see sustained and additional investment is a welcome outcome for jobs and for the thousands of families who live here.”</p> <p>The Australian Government’s funding for the Road Safety Program will deliver lifesaving measures on regional roads and to protect vulnerable road users across the Queensland while also supporting local jobs and providing a welcome boost to local economies.</p> <p>The funding is subject to “use it or lose it” provisions which require States and Territories to use their notionally allocated funds within a timeframe, or those funds can be reallocated to projects in other jurisdictions. The program will be delivered in three, six-month tranches.</p> <p>In total, the Australian Government has approved up to $225 million and the Queensland Government a further $64.6 million to fund the state-wide upgrades.</p> <p>For more information on the Australian Government’s road safety initiatives, visit <a href="http://www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au">www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au</a>. </p> <h2><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Minister Ryan – Toby Walker 0439 347 875</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Assistant Minister Buchholz – Josh Christian 0439 897 926</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Assistant Minister Landry – Tom Birkbeck 0418 908 159</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Assistant Minister Saunders – 07 4114 1100</p> <p>Mr Barry O’Rourke – 07 4994 2100</p> McCormack Road safety funding flows to Queensland Transcript - Press Conference in Rockhampton, Queensland https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/buchholz/interview/transcript-press-conference-rockhampton-queensland <p><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY</strong></p> <p>It’s great to be out here on the Bruce Highway today and see all these roadworks that are going ahead. The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, is here, Scott Buchholz, who’s the Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Barry O’Rourke, the Member for Rockhampton from the State Government. And we’re here today to talk about road safety. The Federal Government is putting another $300 million into road safety across Australia and here in Capricornia we’re receiving over $40 million for road safety projects. And they’re projects around Rockhampton – Emu Park Road – up at Collinsville, out at Moranbah, Nebo areas, so there’s going to be lots of work done and it’s all to help with road safety. As we see over the Christmas period, there’s a lot of people being killed in car accidents. So things like those middle lanes, you know, to have the sound markings on the side of the road, all of those things help. And we’re seeing at the moment that there is a lot of road traffic. People are travelling in Australia, so anything that we can do in conjunction with the State Government is going to help this. So I’ll now pass over to Barry.</p> <p><strong>BARRY O’ROURKE</strong></p> <p>Morning. Barry O’Rourke, Member for Rockhampton. I welcome this funding. It is great to see, this initiative coming to Central Queensland. And anything to do with safety, to reduce the number of lives lost is so important. It’s also the jobs that this creates within our own community. We’ve had so many major road projects on the go at the present time – the Northern Access Road, the Gracemere duplication, we’ve got future works down the track with the Rockhampton Ring Road. This is supporting our local businesses and providing product and services, which is great for our local community and the jobs that it creates.</p> <p><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p>Scotty Buchholz, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport. Great to be here in Rockhampton today and can I tell everyone from the Electorate of Capricornia: do not stand between a bucket of money and Michelle Landry. Yet again she has delivered for this region. On top of the roadworks we drove past getting to this announcement today, Michelle has secured another $40 million out of a $290 million first tranche coming to Queensland, of which the Federal Government is kicking in $225 million. It’s one of those ‘use it or lose its’ and as Michelle rightly said, these are simple investments that we can make to save lives. These roads are proven that once we make these investments we see a 30 per cent reduction in critical injury and life lost.</p> <p>Can I say that the widening of shoulders so that we can put audible lines, so that when you drive off the road there’s that split second to remind you to get back on, the median strips placed into the middle of the road to give that room for error a little bit more are all infrastructure investments that we know deliver and save lives. Michelle Landry is doing an amazing job delivering for Capricornia and this, again, is yet another project where she’s bringing home the bacon and saving lives for Capricornia.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, it’s great to be here with Michelle Landry, the hard-working Member for Capricornia. Also good to be here with Barry O’Rourke and of course, Scott Buchholz, doing a mighty job in freight transport, in road safety right across the nation. This is Queensland’s turn. We’ve got a $2 billion fund. Now as Scott has just mentioned, this is the first tranche. This is Queensland’s turn – $289.6 million. Importantly – very importantly – critically, 92.3 per cent of the around $290 million is being spent in regional Queensland – in regional Queensland. That’s what you get when you get a Liberal Nationals Government in Canberra committed to the regions. That’s what you get when you get a Liberal Nationals Government committed to working with the Queensland Government. And I’m happy to work with Barry. I’m happy to work with Mark Bailey, Mark Ryan – anybody – to get infrastructure built. And that’s what we’re doing. It’s a successful co-operation, a successful collaboration. It’s Governments working together for the common cause. And that is, as Scott Buchholz has just said, saving lives. That is, as Michelle Landry has just said, building better roads, better infrastructure.</p> <p>And right across the nation we’ve got $110 billion – a record amount of money – we’re spending on infrastructure. And we’re doing it with Governments. Doesn’t matter the political persuasion; it’s getting work done to help communities. It’s getting work done. You can see it all around, work that Michelle Landry has fought for, has striven so hard for when she gets down to Canberra to save lives, to make sure that we’ve got those road safety measures in place. And whether it’s the Yamba Road‑Neilsen Avenue intersection, whether it’s the $40 million that will be spread across this region, across the Capricornia Electorate, indeed, top that on as well with the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure money and there’s millions upon millions dollars also rolling out in this region. And you can see why there’s a lot of roadworks going on.</p> <p>But it’s also supporting, just in this road safety package, a thousand jobs for Queensland. And most of those jobs are going to be in regional Queensland. Most of those jobs are going to be local workers. And of course, that feeds into local businesses, local procurement. And so the café just down the road or just along that way, they’ll be selling more egg and bacon rolls. They’ll be selling more coffee for the workers who will be on site. That’s what it’s all about. And infrastructure, construction and regional Queensland are going to lead this nation and help this nation through the back end of COVID-19. And that’s what it’s all about – boots on the ground, shovels in the ground, jobs at the ready, building better roads for more road safety options.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Deputy PM, there’s been some concerns raised over the storage of the Pfizer vaccine and temperatures.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>I’m happy to take any questions you like, but are there any questions about this particular strategy, this particular program or project today? Happy to take those first and then I’m more than happy to take your vaccine questions.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Can you specifically detail how many jobs, how many workers, this project will support?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, I’m going to say, given the fact that there’s thousands of jobs right across – or a thousand jobs right across Queensland, that’s many, many dozens right here. Of course, the Queensland Government in conjunction with the Federal Government are rolling the program out right now. And as Scott Buchholz has said, it’s a use it or lose it, so there’s a hard deadline of June 30 –</p> <p><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p>First of three tranches.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Thank you, Scott, first of three tranches. So when we get this first tranche out of the road and the $290 million spent, then we’ll get on to the second tranche. And I know that Capricornia and other electorates will benefit from that. But you can see here how many workers there are about. You can see how many are in hi-vis and that number will grow enormously in coming weeks and months as the Queensland Government, which does the tendering and contracting, they get the delivery out the door. They want to spend it. I know how keen Barry is and how keen the two Marks are to spend this money, because they know if they don’t spend it, it will go to a State which will spend it. So Queensland wants to get its fair share. I know, I’ve got every faith in Queensland’s ability to be able to deliver this program and happy to work with the Queensland Government to do just that.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Are these projects undertaken with flood mitigation into account?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, they take everything into account. Obviously engineering goes into these things. And I can say that the Commonwealth writes a very big cheque, the Queensland Government then does the tendering and the contracting. There’s always the right environmental impact statements, there’s always flood mitigation, engineering aspects taken into account for all of these projects and programs. That’s always the case. But what it also means is jobs on the ground, shovels at the ready. And that’s why these are shovel ready. The Queensland Government identified them last year. Very much worked hand in glove with the Queensland Department, the Main Roads Department, as well as the Minister to bring about this development.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>How important is it for Central Queensland in particular to get such a large part of this funding when we’ve got one of the worst and highest rates of fatalities in the State?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, you’ve just summed it up. I mean, it’s about road safety and given the fact that the road toll is not anywhere near what it should be. It should be zero. It should be zero. But as we’ve seen last year, despite COVID-19 and a lot cars not even being on the road, a lot of travel not being done, the road toll was higher than the year before and that is very sad. That is very unnecessary. That is very unfortunate and that’s why we’re investing heavily. And part of our road infrastructure rollout, every dollar spent has a road safety aspect and component built into that particular investment by the Commonwealth. And that’s why Scott Buchholz works night and day with portfolio responsibilities for road safety to make sure that we work towards that Vision Zero and that we achieve those outcomes sooner rather than later.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>As part of this planning, will anything be done about fatigue, especially when we’ve got such a large stretch between Mackay and our region and there is a lot of fatalities in that area, there is a lot of fatigue and there are a lot of deaths.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, we are actually rolling out even more money. And Scott Buchholz has just reminded me – it’s $7.8 million for Driver Revivers – more sites, more people on the ground, more places for people to stop when they are travelling. We want people to take those breaks when needed. Absolutely don’t drive when fatigued. It’s as bad as driving when you’ve got substances in your system. Don’t drive when you’re tired. Pull over. Have that kip and because of the Government’s investment in this area, there’ll be more and better Driver Reviver sites to pull over, have that break, meet someone friendly from elsewhere in the State or the nation and get that refresh.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>There has been some concerns raised over the storage of the Pfizer vaccine at low temperatures. What impact do you think there will be for that roll in regional and remote communities?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>We will take the best possible advice, as we have all the way through, through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, through Professor Paul Kelly who, of course, is the Chief Medical Offers and Brendan Murphy who was the CMO before him and is now doing a fantastic job in health. And Greg Hunt the Minister has taken all the way through the best possible medical advice. We will act on that advice. We will get the rollout happening, of course, to the vulnerable, to the aged, to Aboriginal and Indigenous communities. We want to make sure that abattoir workers are a priority. Because we all need food, we all need that food processing, those workers in that important industry, to be able to get the jab and to be able to get in amongst the first to be able to receive it. Of course, we’ve said, that when the Therapeutic Goods Administration approval’s done we will start rolling out the vaccine in February. We haven’t got all our eggs in the one basket. We’ve got other options. We’ve got several options. We’re working through the TGA, we’re working through the best possible medical advice to get those vaccines out as soon as we can, but when it is absolutely safe to do so. That’s been what we’ve done all the way through.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>On that, there is some concern after approximately 30 people died recently in Norway after receiving the Pfizer jab. I mean, what is the health advice on that?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>That’s why Greg Hunt asked DFAT, asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to enquire of the company, enquire of Norwegian health officials, to see exactly the case there. These people who have unfortunately passed away – they already had longstanding health complications and issues. But we will not, we will not place Australians’ lives in jeopardy. We will do the vaccine rollout according to the best possible medical advice. We’ll be working through with the Norwegian authorities and with the company and through DFAT and through TGA processes at the moment to find out exactly what transpired there in Norway. And as I say, I know there are a lot of businesses, a lot of Australians, a lot of people, are relying on this vaccine, are relying on the rollout and relying on having a better 2021 than was, indeed, 2020.</p> <p>So there’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not easy. I appreciate there are a lot of things go on, but rest assured, we’ve done magnificently as a nation, as a country. And I say to Australians: thank you for being your best selves. Right throughout 2020, largely, Australians did the right thing – they isolated, they practiced social distancing, they wore masks. They did everything that was asked of them by and large. And that is why we’ve had only 909 deaths. And those 909 deaths are mourned, they are certainly not forgotten, right from James Kwan, the very first in Perth on March 1 right the way through. Very, very sad for those families who didn’t have a loved one around the Christmas dinner table this festive season. But we will continue to work with States and Territories. We will continue to work with the AHPPC and TGA and others to make sure that we’ve got the health implications sorted and to make sure that we keep Australians safe.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>What’s your reaction to the Premier’s suggestion to turn working camps into potential COVID quarantine hubs for travellers. Do you think this will be supported at National Cabinet on Friday?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, this is very much the remit of Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland Government. I’ve been a proponent of other options other than just capital city quarantining. I think if we’re going to get seasonal workers into place to pick fruit and do other jobs – certainly the resource industry is an industry that could well do with workers as well – but those workers need to have proven negative to a COVID test, even before they get on a plane to come to Australia. The quarantining has to be rigid. It has to be absolutely above reproach. And that’s unfortunately what went wrong in Victoria and more than 800 of the 909 deaths occurred in that Victorian outbreak. So so long as there’s the right security, we’ve got Australian Defence Force personnel at the ready to assist. The Commonwealth is always happy to assist States and Territories. We’ve got 1,500 ADF personnel right throughout the nation at the moment assisting States and assisting Territories with quarantining and other measures.</p> <p>But it has to be the right health, it has to be the right security measures over any quarantining because we don’t want to place, as Michelle Landry has quite correctly pointed out, vulnerable regional communities which don’t have perhaps the health and medical services at the ready, we can’t place them at risk. So if we’re going to quarantine in regional areas, it has to be above reproach. We have to make sure we get those right outcomes. Yes, it will be discussed at the next National Cabinet meeting, I’m sure. And is very much the remit of the Queensland Government.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Are there any locations that you can flag with us that these mining camps are potentially being considered?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Again, it is the remit of the Queensland State Government. So I’ll leave the Queensland Government to perhaps answer that question.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Should the Victorian Government have allowed international tennis players and coaches to quarantine in Melbourne when there are still tens of thousands of Australians stuck overseas?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, I know that we’re doing everything that we can to get returning Australians home. And since March 13 last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison implored, encouraged and perhaps even begged Australians to come home before we had very much a shutdown of international aviation, since March 13 we’ve had 143,000 Australians return. Since September 18 we’ve had more than 71,000 return when certainly the Government has helped with then and now with 20 more Government facilitated flights from places such as India, Europe, indeed, Asia and other places where vulnerable Australians are. There are 37,000 registered with DFAT. We want to get as many of them home as possible. Of course, we’ve had to restrict quarantining. I know the States and Territories have reduced quarantining by half because of the UK strain, which is very virulent. I know that the 20 Government-facilitated flights are going to Howard Springs, Canberra and Hobart and that will be above the cap for the quarantine that has been in place in recent weeks.</p> <p>But we’ll work with States and Territories to get as many Australians home. The matter of the Australian tennis open is very much a matter for the Victorian Government. I appreciate that the Australian Open tennis is a big event for that State – a big event for our nation. But I say, too, to those tennis players who are complaining – and I note that there was one from Romania who was complaining about being stuck behind, you know, behind closed doors. And, yes, it is tough. It’s tough for all of us. But if you look at the situation in Romania, they’ve had a lot more deaths than have had Australia. So that’s why I appreciate her plight, I appreciate the tennis players, it’s hard when they’re stuck in a room and unable to train and get all that and then come out and play in, you know, a grand slam tournament, that must be very, very difficult. But far better to be stuck behind closed doors and being forced to endure those conditions, which many Australians have, than being in an ICU bed some weeks from now.</p> <p>So we want to keep Australians safe. We want, of course, to make sure that we keep all Australians safe. And I say again, too, it is also very frustrating if you are a stone fruit grower in Mildura, for example. I’ve spoken to many farmers in the Sunraysia whose fruit can’t get picked because the Victorian Government has placed those restrictions on seasonal workers and won’t allow on-farm quarantining as the Queensland Government has done. And they’ve been very hard and fast about that and yet $38 million of produce has been left to rot whilst, yes, tennis players have been allowed into the country. It’s very hard. I understand this is a matter for the Victorian Government. Perhaps they’re best to answer those questions.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Going back to those 20 repatriation flights, can you confirm that these flights will be facilitated by Qantas or other commercial airlines and where are they flying in from?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>Well, Australian airlines will be given first priority, of course. But we want to make sure that we provide that ability to get as many Australians home. And as we’ve done all the way through, we’ve looked at the aviation sector. We’ve provided $2 billion of assistance and we’ve tweaked our measures of assistance all the way through, whether it’s through the domestic services support that we’ve put in place, whether it’s the regional support that we’ve put in place, we’ve tweaked it all the way through to ensure that vulnerable communities which would otherwise not have received airline services have been able to do so.</p> <p>Yes, we will put Australian companies first. They will be coming from, as I said earlier, Asia – (yelling from passers-by) see all the support we’re getting for the road projects investment we’re putting in place. It’s great to hear motorists very appreciative of it. That often happens in these sorts of interviews where motorists sing out their support and their cheers for what we’re doing as a Government.</p> <p>But just in final answer to your question, they’ll be coming from the UK, Asia, Europe and anywhere elsewhere there are vulnerable Australians we can put on a plane to get them home.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>One final one from me: the regional tech hub that helps people with broadband problems launched late last year has already been swamped with massive inquiries. Do you think it needs more funding?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK</strong></p> <p>We always look at making sure that we provide more funding for telecommunications, whether it’s mobile black spots, whether it’s broadband. I know Paul Fletcher has done a sterling job in this regard considering the mishmash it was when we first took Government in 2013. And we’ll continue to do that. One of the bright upsides of what we saw last year with so many people having to work from home was the fact that the internet service held up pretty well and many people were able to actually do Zoom meetings and other teleconferences from their lounge rooms and other places from home. And, indeed, they might as well have been in the boardroom in Brisbane. I say to those people, come to a region. Look at the options out here in the regions, because they are – you can have a great lifestyle. You don’t have to actually be stuck in banked up in traffic and looking at the taillights in front of you, the brake lights in front of you, for hours getting to and from work. You can live in a place like Rockhampton. You can have the very best of lives. You can have a great home and a big backyard and a swimming pool and your kids will grow up in the very best of environments. These communities out here in regional Queensland are large enough in which to get a good cup of coffee and small enough to still care.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>Sorry, Michelle, just a quick one for you – apologies everybody – just coming in from down south, can you tell us what shovel-ready major projects there are for the broader Mackay and Morangay area that you were touching on before?</p> <p><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY</strong></p> <p>Yes, so up in Mackay the Wolviston Bypass has started up there. And there’s also money being put aside for I believe the Nebo area and also the Collinsville Road. So they’re safety upgrades as well as upgrades like the Wolviston Bypass is a $120 million project and that is proceeding. That had to wait until after the Mackay Ring Road was completed before that got started. So certainly a lot of work and there’s also been more passing lanes between Rockhampton and Sarina, which is very important. I know that we talk a lot about we like to see four lanes, you know, from the top of Queensland down to Brisbane and that would be great. I’ve been travelling a bit over the break on the Bruce Highway and you certainly see the difference it makes when you have four lanes and lots of passing lanes. So something that, you know, we’re always pushing for because it’s all about road safety.</p> <p><strong>JOURNALIST</strong></p> <p>And, Michelle, I’ll also just get your reaction to also the Premier suggesting that mining workers camps in regional Queensland should be COVID hubs. I mean, how do you support that?</p> <p><strong>MICHELLE LANDRY</strong></p> <p>Look, I know the Deputy Prime Minister is talking about people coming in with, you know, with agriculture is very important. But the feedback that I’ve received from the mining community and the tourism community is that we don’t want people up here with COVID. Okay if people test negative, but I think that there is a lot of difficulties in this area with, you know, lack of health resources and also how many flights they would have to take to get here. So, you know, I’m elected by the people of Capricornia so I stand up for the people of Capricornia. So, no, I don’t want to see any of the mining communities with COVID camps.</p> <p><strong>SCOTT BUCHHOLZ</strong></p> <p>Can I just offer one last comment about road safety issue as we lead into the Australia Day long weekend we’re going to have additional traffic and that on the road and given this is a road safety announcement this morning. Can I just say that Governments of all persuasions – Federal and State – do their part to ensure that the roads that we drive on are of the best possible quality with the amount of money we’ve got. Never before in history has a Government – Federally, State – spent more money on road infrastructure than what we are doing right at this moment. More subtly, the cars that we drive on the road, the engineering standards, the Australian standards for importers are now higher than they have ever been before. So as Governments of all persuasions, we can provide road infrastructure and safer cars. But ultimately we’re still losing lives and those lives are unfortunately they can be prevented – or fortunately they can be prevented. So when you get behind a car or a motorbike, make sure that you’re not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, seat belts on, keep to the speed limit, drive to the conditions. What we’re seeing more and more is driver distraction is playing its role in fatal and serious injuries. So when you get on your motorbike or get behind the wheel of a car, remember, it’s a long weekend coming up. It’s your opportunity to take responsibility for everyone in a motor car to get them home safely.</p> Buchholz Transcript - Press Conference in Rockhampton, Queensland Transcript - Weekend Sunrise interview with Matt Doran https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/transcript-weekend-sunrise-interview-matt-doran <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>Acting Prime Minister, thank you very much for your time here on Weekend Sunrise. This morning, can we start with questions about the safety of this Pfizer vaccine. I want to put this into context because public confidence in vaccines is of course vital. Millions have received this without issue around the world, but it has been enough, Michael, for Norway to review whether in fact it is safe for the frail and the elderly. What's Australia's advice here yet, if any, will it affect the approval of the vaccine here?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Well I spoke to Greg Hunt this morning, the Health Minister, who’s has asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration – they run the rollout of drugs and medicines in Australia – they will ask the Norwegian authorities, and moreover, they will also ask the Pfizer company for their answers in response to what has happened. But that is why all the way through the Federal Government has taken the best medical advice, whether it's from the chief medical officer Brendan Murphy and then of course Paul Kelly, through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, and of course the Therapeutic Goods Administration. We've asked them, Greg Hunt has asked them to look into this and get back to him immediately.</p> <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>Yeah that's interesting so Australia is on the front foot to double check whether this is safe for this subset. The vaccine was tested on tens of 1000s before it was approved. The average age was people in their 50s, which is interesting. There've been 10 deaths as well reported in Germany, so this is something that the Government is actively investigating and at least initially concerned about.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>And it's also why, Matt, we've not put all our eggs in one basket so of course we've got other options. And of course, Astra Zeneca as well, Novavax – we've got other options. We've got enough doses to, of course, roll out right across the nation, free of charge, and to also provide a vaccine, from February, for the Pacific Islands as well. So throughout the year, we're going to ensure that the vaccine is swift, yes, but safe. Absolutely paramount it will be safe.</p> <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>Let’s look if we could at the Australian Open. I love the optimism of organisers here in trying to, I guess, hope that we're living in some sort of a normal world where an event like this could go ahead. Forty-seven players now told to isolate for 14 days. This was after positive COVID passengers on their flights. What's your view, Mr McCormack, should this tournament have been approved in the first place, should it be cancelled now.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>This has been entirely a matter for the Victorian Government and, of course, Tennis Australia and they've put in various protocols and processes to make sure the safety of players and to ensure the infection does not … they did not need any COVID cases, they didn’t want any. That’s why they’ve got their quarantining, that’s why they’ve got their various processes in place.</p> <p>But if I were a Mildura stone fruit grower, I would be scratching my head how is it that this can happen when they can't get workers, isolated on their farms and quarantine and going through those various processes, they must be – and I know they are – very frustrated with the fact that Victorian Government has allowed the tennis players to come into the State to play in this very important event, it's an important international event and it does great things for sport and does great things for the economy. But when you've got already $38 million of produce left to rot, left on the trees. I know those Mildura, those Sunrayasia growers are very frustrated with the fact that they can't get the seasonal workers in on on-farm quarantining when we're allowing these tennis players – some with COVID – to come into Victoria play in a tournament.</p> <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>It's not just the fruit growers, Michael, I can tell you who are scratching their heads. There are families across Australia who can't get into Victoria at this stage and there are Australians around the world who are looking at this thinking, oh my goodness how did 1,200 sportsmen and women get approval to fly into Victoria when we can't get home. What's your view on that?</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Look, I couldn't agree more. And that's why we of course have with the situation with Australians overseas, stranded overseas that's why we've put on another 20 Government-facilitated flights from Europe, from Asia, from the United Kingdom and from other centres. They’ll start on January 31 and run for a couple of months and we'll keep assessing the situation. We've got 37,000 Australians registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who want to come home. And, of course, since the Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged, encouraged and, indeed, implored Australians to come home on March 13, we've had 443,000 Australians returned. But I get the frustration as well, understanding of course that this is a very difficult time for all. And that is why I say again to Australians, thank you for doing what you've done to keep our nation as COVID-free as possible.</p> <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>Acting Prime Minister just finally could I ask you about an issue that will be put forward to National Cabinet on Friday. I guess it's about what Australia's called quarantine system looks like and our strategy moving forward. There have been calls for these remote quarantine hubs, how actively is that being considered do you think, and is that the way forward as opposed to having the hotel quarantine in our cities.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Oh, indeed it has been very actively looked at, and indeed I know that Premier Palaszczuk in Queensland is looking at setting up one up at Gladstone and that's been an option on the table all the way through. It's been very difficult indeed more up in Cairns and Townsville and those Tropical Far North holiday destinations, to have the same restrictions as Brisbane which is a long, long way away. It's been very difficult for particularly regional Australia. I’m on Wagga Wagga Beach, the ninth best beach in Australia. You could go to a new beach every day in Australia for 27 years and not have to go to the same beach twice. This is the ninth best of the 10 beaches in Australia. Regional Australia is a great place to visit, holiday and go to, but I know that Regional Australians were very frustrated when they're under the same pressures and same restrictions, as they were in metropolitan areas where COVID was rife. So, it's been difficult, appreciate that. So I say again, thanks to the Australian community for doing what you've done.</p> <p><strong>MATT DORAN</strong></p> <p>Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, I will let you get back to the ninth best beach behind you there. It looks magnificent. Thank you for your time on Weekend Sunrise today.</p> <p><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p>Thanks for that; any time at all.</p> <h2 class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>Media contacts: </strong></h2> <p>Jo Williamson, 0418 475 668<br /> Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860</p> McCormack Transcript - Weekend Sunrise interview with Matt Doran Government to support a further 20 facilitated commercial flights https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/government-support-further-20-facilitated-commercial-flights <p>The Australian Government continues to prioritise helping vulnerable Australians overseas to return and will provide a further 20 commercial flights from locations around the world.</p> <p>The flights will be targeted to regions of most need and which are not currently met by regular commercial options, running from January 31 to March 31.</p> <p>Australians returning on these additional Government-facilitated flights will quarantine at Howard Springs and in States and Territories willing to work above the current caps, on a case by case basis.</p> <p>Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Government would continue to work closely with the States and Territories to make sure the strictest procedures and protocols are followed to keep everyone safe.</p> <p>“These flights will bring people back from the United Kingdom, Europe, India and other places where vulnerable Australians are most in need of assistance,” Mr McCormack said.</p> <p>“Importantly, these additional flights announced today will provide some hope and relief for Australians in vulnerable situations overseas.</p> <p>“The additional facilitated flights will complement scheduled commercial services arriving in our international airports, which continue to provide the main avenue for Australians to return.”</p> <p>Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said since the start of the pandemic, DFAT has supported around 39,000 people to return on more than 500 flights, including more than 12,800 on 92 government facilitated flights. </p> <p>“Within the past 24 hours a government facilitated flight from London landed in Darwin with 199 Australians on board,” Minister Payne said.</p> <p>“We will continue to work with commercial carriers such as Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines to support Australians to get seats, where possible, so they can return.”</p> <p>The Government has facilitated 28 flights since 23 October, 2020 with 3,900 passengers arriving from destinations including London, Paris, Frankfurt, New Delhi, Chennai, Singapore, Santiago, Johannesburg and Los Angeles.</p> <p>More than 446,000 Australians have returned to Australia since the Government recommended people reconsider the need to travel abroad in March last year.</p> <h2 class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p>Foreign Minister – Melanie Ruiz 0427 888 392</p> McCormack Government to support a further 20 facilitated commercial flights Transcript: press conference - Batman Highway event, Tasmania https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/interview/transcript-press-conference-batman-highway-event-tasmania <p class="CxSpFirst"><strong>BRIDGET ARCHER </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, thanks for coming out here today on this beautiful summer northern Tasmanian day. We’re here to start the works here, or commence works, on the Batman Highway, part of the Northern Roads Package, a $55 million package of works to improve the freight corridors here in northern Tasmania.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I’m joined by West Tamar mayor, Christina Holmdahl, Minister Michael Ferguson and Acting Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. So, mayor, you might like to talk about what this means for your municipal area.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>CHRISTINA HOLMDAHL </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Thank you very much, Bridget. The work that’s being announced today is really most welcome – $55 million to undertake work that’s been probably on the books for a long, long time. But it’s going to, in my municipality especially, it’s going to address all the shortcomings that are going to improve road safety, and we welcome it very much and we look forward to working with both the State and Federal governments in ensuring that the work happens well. Thank you.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Thanks, Christina, and good afternoon and a particular welcome to you in the northern Tasmanian region, of course, my friend and colleague, Bridget Archer, and Tasmania’s good friend, the Acting Prime Minister, Michael McCormack. It really is a delight this week to see work commencing on this major Northern Roads Package. It’s $55 million worth of work which has been co-funded by the Commonwealth and by the Tasmanian Liberal Government. We are very pleased to see jobs getting out, tenders being won by in this case a proud Tasmanian business, Hazell Brothers. We’ve already started the preliminary works. They started that on January 4. And next week the major works get underway for Batman Highway for particularly the road widening and strengthening, together with some realignment and road strengthening and widening taking place on the Frankford Highway and the Birralee main road.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">This is actually about providing better measures for truckies to get product from our regional areas out to Bell Bay, one of our major ports. This is actually going to take pressure off the roads the Launceston, but it’s also going to enhance road safety. Importantly, it’s creating jobs right here, right now in northern Tasmania. For that, we say a big thank you to the Commonwealth for the funding partnership. Michael.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Thank you, Michael. When it’s raining, you drive to the conditions and it’s raining now and it does provide for slippery surfaces, it does provide sometimes for driver behaviour that is not conducive to the road conditions. And yet despite the fact that we are building better roads and we have better vehicles, people are still dying on our roads. And that’s why the Federal Liberal-Nationals Government is combining with state governments such as the Peter Gutwein Liberal Government here in Tasmania to promote road safety, to build better roads whether it’s the Batman Highway, whatever the case might be right around this amazing, fantastic, livable state. And it is a livable state. We want more people to come to Tasmania. We want more people to come to regional Tasmania. And that’s what Bridget Archer is all about. That’s what Mayor Christina wants to see happen. We want to see people to make Tasmania a destination point to visit, to holiday here, to come here and live. And these regional areas are amazing. They are fantastic. They have so much to see and do. And that’s why we are building better roads. Whether it’s through the $55 million Northern Roads Package, whether it’s the road safety package we’re rolling out, whether it’s the $110 billion infrastructure package over the next 10 years right across the nation, we are putting in place the roads that are going to safe people’s lives.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And I work very closely with Michael Ferguson. In fact, he rings me every other day about a particular project, one or another, throughout his fine State. And I know how hard he works. I know how committed he is to building a better Tasmania, as is Bridget Archer. I tell you what – she is an outstanding Member for Bass. She wants better outcomes for the people she represents. She wants better infrastructure. She wants more water infrastructure, better roads. And I want to work with her and will work with her into the future to see that happen.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">But delighted to be here. I had, as I say, breakfast with Peter Gutwein this morning and Senator Jonno Duniam to talk about infrastructure across Tasmania as a whole. But here, for the Northern Roads Package, it’s really great to be with Michael Ferguson, really great to be here with Bridget Archer, and really looking forward to seeing this work started. Because it’s not only the road safety that it will enhance; it’s also the jobs in the construction phase. It’s also that little café down the road which will be selling more coffees, more egg and bacon rolls as the construction workers need to be fed and need to be watered for construction to go on. [Indistinct] save more lives on Tasmanian roads. Thank you. Any questions?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">When will this start?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, very soon. We want to see shovels in the ground as soon as possible, don’t we, Michael? Where have you gone? Major works start on Monday. There you are. Got your answer. Well done. All over it.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And can you tell us specifically what work will be done on the bridge?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, I’ll allow Michael to add to this, but what we’re doing is we’re strengthening, we’re lengthening, we’re making sure that all the abutments and the shoulder widening is being done. And any work, of course, that the engineers look at and see that that needs to be improved upon then we’ll do it. But, Michael, do you want to add to that?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON</strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, Acting Prime Minister. This work is about widening the road. As you’d have driven here you’d have noticed that there’s centre lines but there’s no lines on the sides of the road. That’s because it’s not regulation width to allow the full width. We’ll achieve that by the road widening, shoulder strengthening as well. This is a – there’s no work required on the bridge itself; that’s undergoing its normal maintenance. But the actual road pavement surface that makes up the Batman Highway together with the Frankford Road, the Frankford Highway, the Birralee main road, they’re a package of works together that are going to allow truck movements to occur in a safer way. A lot of truckies are not comfortable travelling from the Bass Highway through to Bell Bay using these routes in some cases and this work will allow them to be able to do that.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Can you tell us the timeline? How long will this take and delays for motorists?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">This project is due this year. I mean, this project is one of so many that are part of the Tasmanian Liberal Government’s partnership with the Commonwealth. In this current financial year, as I announced on the 4th of January, we’ve budged $485 million worth of work. It’s more than ever before, and it builds on last financial year’s record 38 projects, the most projects achieved in a decade in Tasmania. So we’re really cracking on and we’re seeing a lot of men and women in this industry getting work in some cases for the first time and, importantly, improving those road safety outcomes that the Acting Prime Minister has referred to.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">[Indistinct]</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I can get you the month. I believe it’s around the middle of the year.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">July hopefully, weather permitting.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Out of that funding pool, how much do you think will be spent on upgrading this [indistinct]?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I’d have to get you the specifics, but – thank you, Deputy Prime Minister.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I can add to that. It’s actually $15.5 million Commonwealth, and that’s our 80 per cent contribution to this particular stretch here. And, of course, there’ll be 20 per cent on top of that from the state contribution. So often with these – often usually with these particular projects it’s 80 per cent Commonwealth, 20 per cent the State, and that’s why when a Labor government is in charge in Canberra it’s only usually 50-50, so that’s why a lot of infrastructure doesn’t get built. But when you’ve got a Liberal-Nationals Government in Canberra it’s 80 per cent commonwealth, 20 per cent state. We’ve got a capacity at the moment. We’ve got a determination to build more infrastructure, and that is precisely what we are doing. It’s great to actually partner up with somebody as dedicated as Michael Ferguson. If I had every state minister as charged up and determined as Michael Ferguson, we would build a better Australia – we’d do it tomorrow. But, like I say, he rings me every other day about water and road and other infrastructure in Tasmania, and I thank him for it.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And besides this project, is there any other major projects in the North of the State that the commonwealth is contributing to?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Absolutely there are. In fact, most of the projects that we are, in fact, embarking on with our $485 million investment program into the Tasmanian state roads and bridges program is, in fact, a partnership with the Commonwealth Government. Our departments and our offices work very, very closely together. You’re also looking at improvements right across the road network, noting that we have more than 3,000 kilometres of network, much of which we see co-partnering occurring between the two governments. There’s a special package of work we look forward to saying more about over coming months in relation to the road to Scottsdale on the Tasman Highway. That’s a major piece of work which we intend to do. Again, that is an 80-20 split with the Commonwealth to achieve better road safety outcomes and better productivity of the Tasman Highway route to Scottsdale in the north east.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Will you be able to get us the figure on how much the State Government is putting towards this, the 20 per cent?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes, our contribution is $11 million. And I think that’s a great outcome for Tasmanians, that that incredible investment of 11 is able to unleash a total investment of $55 million in total from the two governments.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Is it realistic for us to build our way out of COVID given the state’s poor infrastructure record?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, it’s actually happening. It’s happening here and now. And in reality, as I indicated, in the last financial year we achieved a record 38 projects, more than what has been done in a decade. So the Tasmanian Liberal Government has a track record of getting infrastructure built. We intend to maintain that momentum. Even though the funding profile continues to grow each year, we’re getting those great outcomes and you’re seeing women and men in this industry working, getting the jobs that they need but importantly providing that better infrastructure. Tasmanians elected this Government to deliver infrastructure, and they’re getting it.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And could I just add to that Michael, if you don’t mind?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL McCORMACK </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I mean, 17 of the last 21 dams in Australia have been built in this state. 17 out of 21 – that’s not a bad record. And Tasmania is actually leading the way as far as water infrastructure is concerned. And I applaud that. And I want to work with the Tasmanians even further and more to build on that record. If the Mainlanders could take a leaf out of the Gutwein government’s book as far as building water infrastructure, what a great nation we’d have. We’d be plumbing Australia even better than what it is now.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I just have another question for you given in Bell Bay the trucks we’re hearing, how important is it that this work is done?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">This is actually a vital enabler for further economic progress for Tasmania, products activity for our truckers, as well as making sure that goods can get to markets. We are seeing opportunity being realised with our export hub at Bell Bay, and it’s vital that the productive north-west of the State where it’s required to get goods to market are able to do so in a safe way and in an efficient way. At the moment many truckers are choosing to use the Bass Highway through to Launceston and the full extent of the East Tamar Highway out of Launceston. This will provide a further choice and, in some cases, a more productive route.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">The health dashboard released this afternoon, elective surgery lists have skyrocketed. How will the Government bring those numbers down?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, the Government will be investing a further $45 million in elective surgery over this financial year. We recognise that the Government has invested now $9.8 billion into the health system, and Minister Sarah Courtney is working very hard to ensure that Tasmanians who need the care that they deserve can get it. And also we are able to demonstrate our bona fides because in all regions of the state we’ve employed more staff and opened more beds so that Tasmanian community can get the care that they need when they need it.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Just going back to the bridge, obviously the Batman name has a bit of a history in Tasmania. Are there any plans at all to change the name of the bridge as part of the project?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">There are no plans for name changes. We’re always open to listen to different points of view on the matter.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">How concerned are you by the increase in public housing applicants and the waiting lists?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, that’s why the Government is working very hard to provide more housing opportunities. And that’s demonstrated as recently as last year’s Budget. We’re providing $300 million for more housing opportunities, and it’s hitting the communities where they need it. And by working so closely with the sector, Minister Jaensch is providing more housing options and, indeed, we’re doing that by building more houses, releasing more land and, of course, working with community housing providers to use the Government’s land stock in order to build more housing off their own balance sheet. It is working and we’re moving towards a thousand more houses in Tasmania directly for social housing.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">There are calls for a hospice facility to be built here in the north. Is that something the Government would consider?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Absolutely. We are always open to new opportunities. We did do a feasibility study into the potential for a hospice in northern Tasmania. At the time that that report was done it demonstrated that because of the rural centres and also the publicly funded beds at St Luke’s an additional stand-alone hospice wasn’t feasible at that time. We’re still looking into that, though. And there are opportunities for improving palliative care across the north are happening as we speak, including at the Mersey.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Do you think if we had more end-of-life care options it would decrease the pressure on our hospitals?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes. And that’s why the Government is, in fact, investing more in palliative care. It is vital. We do understand the need for this, and as opportunities present, the Government will always give very close consideration to funding better options for palliative care, including the very noble goal of a future hospice in Launceston.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And I just have one question for Bridget do you think there’s a need for a hospice facility in your electorate?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>BRIDGET ARCHER </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes, certainly I’ve had a number of discussions with a lot of people in this space, and I believe that there is an opportunity to look at better palliative care opportunities in northern Tasmania. As Minister Ferguson has said, I think there needs to be more work in relation to what that looks like. There are already some excellent options for palliative care, but there’s no doubt that there is more need that has been identified. And certainly it would help to take some pressure off our public health system.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">I’ve just got one more question in regards to corrections, if that’s okay?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Yes.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Have corrections officers been given enough support in managing the pandemic in our prisons?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">Well, they have, and if there’s more support required it will be provided. The Tasmanian Liberal Government has totally understood and has followed the expert public-health advice about the particular risks that are posed in close physical proximity of prisons and looking after the prison population. Yes, they’re doing their time for the crimes they’ve served, but there’s also a duty of care at play here that the Government totally respects and is following the health advice. If there’s further advice that comes forward we’ll follow that.</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>JOURNALIST </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">And how many of the 64 recommendations from the custodial inspector’s report last year have been implemented?</p> <p class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>MICHAEL FERGUSON </strong></p> <p class="CxSpMiddle">It’s a work in progress I’m advised. And the Custodial Inspector’s report is an annually produced report, providing advice to government which is publicly and transparently available to the community to allow us to find more and better ways that we are expected to provide safe environments in prison and correctional facilities. But I want to hasten to add that the correctional inspectorate was created by this Government. We created that role. We created the office, we created the legislation to enable it so that we can provide contemporary and safe facilities for people serving time.</p> <h2 class="CxSpMiddle"><strong>Media contacts </strong></h2> <p>Jo Williamson, 0418 475 668<br /> Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860</p> McCormack Transcript: press conference - Batman Highway event, Tasmania Work starts on first stage of Northern Tasmania freight route https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/work-starts-first-stage-northern-tasmania-freight-route <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Work has begun on the first stage of the Northern Roads Package, a $55 million project to provide a more efficient route for freight vehicles travelling across the north of Tasmania.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Tasmanian construction company Hazell Bros has started work on upgrading the Batman Highway between East Tamar Highway and the Batman Bridge. Site-set up and preliminary works have started, with major construction expected to start in mid-January.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would stimulate the surrounding region’s economy.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“We’re putting critical infrastructure first and in the fast-lane with construction on this project starting in January and to be fully completed by mid this year,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“This is yet another example of the Australian Government continuing to roll out our $110 billion nationwide infrastructure pipeline, supporting jobs and communities at a time when it is needed the most.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson said the Northern Roads Package would create better transport routes across Tasmania.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The package will provide a more efficient route for freight vehicles travelling between the industrial precinct of Bell Bay and the Bass Highway,” Minister Ferguson said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“Upgrades to Batman Highway, Frankford Main Road and Birralee Main Road will better accommodate heavy freight vehicles, making freight transport in Tasmania safer and more reliable.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Member for Bass Bridget Archer said the upgrade includes providing sealed shoulders, which will make the road safer for use by heavy vehicle operators.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“The package will provide a faster and more efficient route for freight vehicles travelling between the industrial precinct of Bell Bay and the Bass Highway by upgrading sections of the Batman Highway, Frankford Main Road and Birralee Main Road,” Mrs Archer said.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">“It will reduce freight traffic through central Launceston and operating costs for heavy vehicle operators, while improving safety for all road users travelling between the north-east and north-west of the state.”</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Work on the Batman Highway project is expected to be completed by mid-2021, weather permitting. Planning is well underway for the Frankford and Birralee Road upgrades with construction of the full program of upgrades expected to be complete early 2024.</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">The project is jointly funded, with the Australian Government committing $44 million and the Tasmanian Government committing $11 million.</p> <h2 class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Deputy Prime Minister</strong> – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Minister Ferguson </strong>– Carly Dolan 0437 925 010</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Bridget Archer </strong>– Lucy Mercier 0438 801 732</p> McCormack Work starts on first stage of Northern Tasmania freight route Applications open to fund lifesaving Driver Reviver upgrades https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/applications-open-fund-lifesaving-driver-reviver-upgrades <p>Owners of Driver Reviver locations across the nation can now apply for a share of $7.3 million in Australian Government funding to upgrade their lifesaving rest sites.</p> <p>Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said Driver Reviver sites provide a place for drivers and their passengers to stop and have much-needed safety and fatigue breaks along their journey.</p> <p>“Nothing is more tragic than to have someone taken away from their family, friends and community suddenly,” the Acting Prime Minister said.</p> <p>“The devastating impacts of road crashes are absolutely gut-wrenching, which is why it is so vital to keep road safety front of mind and on everyone’s radars through programs such as Driver Reviver.</p> <p>“That’s why I am proud to announce $7.3 million in grant funding now available under Round 2 of the Driver Reviver Upgrade Program, to allow existing Driver Reviver locations nationwide to upgrade amenities and install new equipment.</p> <p>“It will also allow the establishment of new sites to expand the current network and reach even more road users, with priority given to restoring Driver Reviver sites affected by the horrific bushfires of 2019 and 2020. </p> <p>“Driver Reviver is a community program that has been operating in Australia for 30 years now, with their sites providing drivers and their passengers somewhere they can stop safely, particularly on long trips and during peak holiday periods.</p> <p>“The sites are managed by volunteers from a wide range of service organisations and community groups, who give their time to promote road safety and help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads by providing travellers with free beverages, snacks and conversation.</p> <p>“There are around 190 Driver Reviver sites across the nation and I strongly encourage all site owners, including state and local governments, to submit their applications for funding.”</p> <p>Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said driver fatigue had been identified as one of the ‘Fatal Five’ road safety factors that contribute to road trauma, being a factor in up to 30 per cent of all deaths and severe injuries on our roads.</p> <p>“Driver Reviver sites are critical in tackling driver fatigue to make our roads safer, which is why I am proud to be part of a Government that continues to invest in the program,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said. </p> <p>“We have now committed a total of $8 million under the Driver Reviver Upgrade Program and $1.2 million is already out the door through the Road Safety Awareness and Enablers Fund.</p> <p>“We had 34 Driver Reviver locations from across the nation receive federal funding under the program’s first round to invest in high-impact signs to promote key road safety messages and awareness of Driver Reviver sites.</p> <p>“These signs were absolutely vital for keeping people safe as we saw traffic get back on our roads as borders opened and the festive period arrived.</p> <p>“This next round will allow Driver Reviver sites to deliver even more upgrades to support their life-saving work.</p> <p>“Driver Reviver owners will be able to use this round’s funding for a range of much-needed amenities to entice road users to make good use of their sites, such as shelters, picnic tables, power and water facilities, barbecues, parking, lighting and of course equipment such as fridges or hot-water urns that allow them to offer that much-needed cuppa with their friendly chats.</p> <p>“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and our Government is doing what it can to ensure Australia moves towards ‘Vision Zero’ of zero deaths on our nation’s roads.</p> <p>“Initiatives such as the Driver Reviver program showcase what governments and communities can achieve when working together, as well as of course the role road users can play to ensure we all get home safely at the end of each trip.”</p> <p>Round 2 of the Driver Reviver Site Upgrade Program is a targeted competitive grant round with applications closing 25 February 2021.</p> <p>Further information, including application guidelines and submissions, is available at <a href="http://www.grants.gov.au/">www.grants.gov.au</a>.</p> <p>For more information on the Australian Government’s road safety initiatives, visit <a href="http://www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au">www.officeofroadsafety.gov.au</a></p> <h2 class="BoswellMediaHeader"><strong>Media Contact:</strong></h2> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860</p> <p class="BoswellMediaHeader">Assistant Minister Buchholz – Josh Christian 0439 897 926</p> McCormack Applications open to fund lifesaving Driver Reviver upgrades