Questions Without Notice - Infrastructure Delivery

12 September 2023

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How is the Albanese Labor government getting on with the job of delivering the infrastructure Australia needs, particularly through working with regional communities?

Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat—Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (15:07): I thank the member for Cunningham for the question. She is a very strong advocate for the people of the Illawarra, who of course know firsthand how important it is for the Commonwealth to not just deliver for regional communities but actually work with regional communities to ensure that our investments deliver a better quality of life for Australians all across the country. Over the last 18 months that's exactly what this government's been doing: working for regional communities but, more importantly, working with regional communities.

First, we've redesigned regional investment programs to ensure best practice transparency and consistency of process, as well as fairer distribution of funds, to ensure people can have confidence in these new programs. Last month, expressions of interest for the $300 million Growing Regions Program closed. Communities across the country have now submitted their expressions of interest, which are for the first time being assessed by a multiparty panel. Members of the Liberal Party, members of the National Party, Independent members and members of the Labor Party are undertaking those assessments of the expressions of interest, and I want to thank them very much for the work they are about to do. What this program is going to do is deliver capital works that will improve equity, support social inclusion, grow local economies and make our regions an even better place to live.

At the same time, our new $400 million Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program is now open for applications. Unlike traditional grants programs, this program will always be open. It's a program that will bring together governments and communities to deliver regional precincts that are tailored to local needs and have a shared vision for how each precinct connects to the community. We've taken inspiration from places like Muswellbrook, with the Upper Hunter Innovation Precinct, and also the terrific precinct in the University of Tasmania, at the Inveresk campus. There's the Housing Support program—$500 million—a competitive funding program for local and state governments to kick-start housing supply. This new funding will see a significant proportion go to our regions, making sure we're tackling housing shortages and putting downward pressure on rents and the cost of living in regional communities.

And, of course, there are over 300 Commonwealth funded major transport infrastructure projects currently underway or under construction. Many of them are in the regions, including Coffs Harbour Bypass, the Tanami, Santa Teresa Road and projects up and down the Bruce Highway, because we are actually building; we're not riding on a press release. We saw those opposite make an announcement and then not deliver. We're actually getting on the job. We're working hard and working with local communities to deliver the infrastructure they need and deserve.

Mr Albanese: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.