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Speeches

National Stronger Regions Fund

Here I am again at the start of another week, highlighting work by the federal government with respect to what it is doing in regional, remote and rural Australia. Like my colleague Nola Marino, I am a WA regional Liberal who gets the bush and represents regional Australia. I am very proud to do so. I am pleased to rise today to speak on the member for Forrest's private members' business, because it gives all of us in this place a great opportunity to hear about the government's track record in regional Australia as compared with those opposite, who do not understand it and do not appreciate regional Australia.

The National Stronger Regions Fund promotes sustainable, robust projects that make a real difference in the lives of those who are living in some of the most rural and remote parts of the country, including in my electorate of Durack. The National Stronger Regions Fund is a multifaceted program with lots of different levers, all of which can be implemented by government and communities to improve regional and outback Australia. Last week, I was in the Pilbara, where the National Stronger Regions Fund is helping to build a world-class arts and community precinct in Karratha and is also restoring the historic Victoria Hotel in Roebourne. When you combine this with the government's funding of the Northern Australia Roads Program, you can clearly see that this side of the House cares for and respects those living in our regions and we want to see them prosper.

When I was in Port Hedland, there was a very serious discussion about the use of the northern Australia infrastructure funds to develop a general cargo handling port in Port Hedland at Lumsden Point. This would allow the North West live export market to prosper.

Currently we have about one million head of cattle in the Kimberley and Pilbara region, with a strong state government commitment to grow that to two million head. If this is to occur, we will need a port capable of handling that increase in traffic, as currently many of the cattle are being transported thousands of kilometres to the south to be shipped overseas. This project will cut the distance, time and cost involved in live export from northern Australia and will move our strong agricultural sector forward.

In this government, we get the bush, we get outback Australia and we get northern Australia. The latest round of projects to be funded through the NSRF was announced in October last year. Those projects will have immense value in my electorate of Durack, delivering improved infrastructure and creating jobs but also improving the liability of many of those towns.

The health of residents in Hedland will benefit from the new St John Ambulance Port Hedland training subcentre, which will be a state-of-the-art facility, replacing the existing ageing facility. In addition to being a brand-new facility, the building will cater for an increased need for ambulance services in the area, with improved access to first aid training and equipment—great news for residents of Hedland and the surrounding towns and for the many travellers who travel through Hedland.

The Kimberley region were also winners in the last round, with Kununurra Bushmen's Rodeo Association receiving a grant which will benefit the East Kimberley enormously. The Kununurra Bushmen's Rodeo Association has received over $319,000 for a major upgrade of the Kununurra Rodeo Grounds, which will open up the town to new tourism opportunities.

In the last round of the National Stronger Regions Fund, I was very proud that Durack got a total of eight projects, and I want to take the time to congratulate the local RDAs, my staff and all of those councils who applied for those funds. Together we have made an awesome team, and that is obvious from the eight projects that we managed to achieve. Let there be no doubt in the minds of regional and rural Australians: this federal government is listening to your needs. To my electorate, I want to confirm—and I think it is obvious from the eight projects we got in the last round—that I am delivering across the breadth of Durack. Together we are delivering, from Kununurra in the north to Southern Cross in the south. Long may we continue to do so.

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