ONE of my main drivers and motivations for serving in the Federal Parliament is to get things done which actually make a real difference to the lives of regional Australians and their communities.
A big win can often be delivered by getting the Government out of the way of businesses in areas which niggle or slow them down needlessly, so they can get on with running their operations more efficiently and profitably.
The Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government provided a great example of such common sense decision-making recently, when it harmonised road transportation rules across state borders, by removing permits on certain load specifications.
This red tape reduction has now made it easier to cart hay and feed supplies to support drought stricken communities, at a time of great need.
Truck drivers and industry members praised the move, as did farmers, for reducing their burden and improving the way they do business, while cutting costs and maintaining road safety standards.
The often critical and extreme animal welfare lobby was deathly silent in offering any praise for ensuring feed stocks can also be delivered to livestock at risk of exposure, due to lack of feed.
But as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the real world benefits and improvements, not seeking praise from the naysayers, is what motivates me to get on with the next job and arrive at good, practical outcomes.
This agenda in action was demonstrated on the road in late September when I stood alongside fellow Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker, NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey and Coffs Harbour community leaders to unveil the preferred design for the $1.2 billion Pacific Highway bypass.
This project is one the local community wants delivered to help improve safety and overcome current and future traffic headaches, by diverting trucks from the town centre and reducing the number of vehicles using the existing Pacific Highway.
Just a few moments after speaking to media about the Coffs bypass project, Luke and I unveiled the opening of brand new concrete bridge which connects Crossmaglen Valley with neighbouring Bonville.
This bridge announcement didn’t make the 6pm news bulletins in Sydney, but that didn’t matter to the local community members and school children who welcomed this project’s completion with as much passion and gratitude as the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
It will replace their old, fading timber structure with a solid, secure new two-lane concrete bridge, to enhance access.
School buses servicing the Crossmaglen Public School as well as milk tankers and other heavy vehicles servicing the agricultural industry can now cross the bridge several times a day with greater safety, efficiency and confidence.
A $225,000 spend through the Australian Government’s Bridges Renewal Program partnered with the Coffs Harbour City Council’s contribution of $225,000 from its Bridge Capital Works Program, to create this result.
This is yet another example of this Liberal and Nationals’ Government getting the job done for regional people and communities, but such results don’t happen by accident.
Responsible management of taxpayer dollars is at the heart of this Government’s agenda and this strong financial performance was demonstrated clearly when the final outcomes for the 2017-18 national budget were recently released.
These results showed the bottom line for the 2017-18 financial year was $19.3 billion better than estimated at the time of releasing the budget papers for that period, putting it on a safe and secure pathway to return to balance.
Most eyes will glaze over at hearing such big numbers being sprouted by any politician, and I could also mention how Standard and Poors has also affirmed Australia’s AAA credit rating.
But local residents in Coffs probably don’t know or care how the AAA rating impacts on the delivery of their bypass – they just want the road built, to improve their quality of life and so that’s exactly what I and this Government is doing.
There’s also been widespread talk about the unprecedented 10 year, $75 billion investment pipeline announced in this year’s Federal Budget, which again may sound like a big impressive number, but what does it really mean for people stuck in traffic or driving their children to and from school each day?
In reality, this long-term funding program ensures we can continue rolling-out projects strategically such as the bridge upgrade or Coffs bypass, which helps people arrive home sooner and safer.
This $75 billion pipeline also means we can move forward with nation building projects such as the 1700kms Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail, to transport freight from farm paddocks to markets more efficiently so farmers have more money in their pockets, rather than the Government’s.
Throughout the nation, not just in Coffs or the Inland Rail, infrastructure projects big and small are being delivered to make a real difference – fuelled by a strong economy and motivated by a real desire to achieve real-life outcomes for real people and their communities.