House of Representatives

Dr HAINES (Indi) (14:38):

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Better Rail will run through Wangaratta, Glenrowan, Benalla and Euroa, with substantial impacts on these towns.

This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the amenity and accessibility of these railway precincts, while delivering the Better Rail’s aims.

However, the ARTC, which is 100% owned by this Government, says it has insufficient budget for amenity upgrades.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister commit to providing additional funding to the ARTC for these works and deliver the legacy these communities are calling for?

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina—Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of the Nationals) (14:39): I thank the member for her question and her interest in Better Rail.

Last Friday, indeed, I was with the Member for Parkes at Moree, where we turned the first sod for the Narrabri to North Star section, 171 kilometres, $693.8 million. Recently—on 15 September, in fact—the Parkes to Narromine section, the first of 13, was completed, and it was great to hammer in that golden spike. Perhaps more importantly, 99 local businesses were successful in helping, in getting the benefit of the $110 million procurement.

To the member’s question, this important project, as she indicated, is transformational. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It took a Liberal-National government to be delivering it. It took us to be delivering it. Now, 16,000 jobs will be supported by Better Rail during construction and operation, 2,800 of them in Victoria, and certainly the member’s electorate will benefit from that.

She asks about particular stations. Benalla station: while a full upgrade to the Benalla station is out of scope for the delivery of Better Rail, the ARTC has committed to capture the requirements for the Benalla station precinct as a whole, in an effort to deliver a solution that meets requirements as best as possible, to complement the council’s planning schemes and not preclude opportunities to expand or upgrade the station in the—

The SPEAKER: Broadcasting, his microphone’s momentarily gone off. I call the Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr McCORMACK: has enabled the ARTC to incorporate the aspirations of the local council and community, including creating a civic presence document into the requirements for early contractor involvement.

Wangaratta and Glenrowan stations: ARTC continues to engage the local community and stakeholders, and this is what we’ve done the whole way through, with community consultation, with engagement.

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Member for Indi, on a point of order?

Dr HAINES: On relevance: I asked the Deputy Prime Minister if he would provide additional funding for these amenities.

The SPEAKER: That was the specific question, but, as I’ve pointed out, particularly to those on the crossbench, who have 45 seconds to ask the question, there was a good 30 seconds of preamble beforehand, which makes it difficult for me because the minister’s entitled to refer to anything that’s in the question. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Mr McCORMACK: I continue to work with the Victorian minister as well. Appreciating that you don’t always get what you want, when it comes to negotiations with state governments, they need to, of course, have some responsibility for some infrastructure. I’m happy to work with Labor governments; indeed, that’s what I do—because it’s about delivery, it’s about outcomes, it’s about people. And I’m more than happy to work with governments of any political persuasion to get things done, and that’s what I have been doing. I’m happy, of course, to work with the communities involved, whether it’s Wangaratta or Glenrowan. I will add that the ARTC has provided a total of $380,000 to more than 120 community groups across the alignment, supporting organisations and supporting services that support the local community. But I’m happy to work with the member as well.

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