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May 2, 2016

Ms McGOWAN  (Indi) (14:31): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Minister, the Victorian government has committed, as an interim measure, to refurbishing rolling stock for the North East Line while the plan for replacing the entire fleet with new trains is completed. Can you please tell the parliament what your government is going to do to ensure that the people of north-east Victoria have an efficient, effective, reliable and modern train service?

Mr CHESTER  (Gippsland—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:31): I thank the member for Indi for her question and note her ongoing interest in and determination to take credit for all of the coalition’s policies in relation to regional Australia. There are many, many great coalition policies for growth and jobs. In fact, there is a whole smorgasbord of great coalition policies for regional Australia. And the member for Indi, as an Independent member, has actually had no impact on the development of those great policies in relation to Roads to Recovery or mobile phone black spots or the bridges renewal program—no impact whatsoever. But because this government believes in the future of regional Australia and because the coalition is passionate about jobs—

The SPEAKER: The member for Indi has a point of order—and the member will state the point of order.

Ms McGowan:  My point of order is about relevance. The question was about trains.

The SPEAKER: The minister has the call. He will ensure that he is relevant to the question.

Mr CHESTER:  This government is focused on the future of regional Australia and the coalition is passionate about jobs and growth in every regional community—and we have a very proud record of delivering for the people of Indi. In relation to the detail of the question the member for Indi raised, the Australian-government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation operates the rail track between Melbourne and Albury, and the responsibility for passenger train services resides with the Victorian government, as the member has correctly indicated. We do note that the Border Rail Action Group made some criticism of the Victorian government’s announcement last week and has called on the Victorian government to provide new rolling stock. The member has received regular updates from the ARTC in relation to the North East railway line. And I look forward, if in fact a request does come forward from the Victorian government, to considering it in the appropriate manner.

The member for Indi would be aware that the program in relation to the ARTC on the North East Line has benefited in the order of $134 million of federal government funding, starting with the previous government and continuing under the current government. But passenger services are primarily a matter for the state government to consider. And I would take the opportunity to make the point, given that the member asked a question in relation to infrastructure, that there has been a lot of interest in road and rail infrastructure across Indi in recent times—a lot of interest across her whole electorate. Two people have been particularly focused on infrastructure in Indi. The Nationals candidate for Indi, Marty Corboy, has rung me on many occasions. He is a good local businessman, passionate about the future of Indi, and a champion for improving infrastructure in Indi.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr CHESTER:  Those opposite asked, ‘What about Sophie?’ Well, the former member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, has rung me as well. She is passionate about the future of the infrastructure needs of the community of Indi. She has rung me in support of her community on roads and rail infrastructure. She is determined to deliver for the people of Indi because this government, this coalition, is determined to deliver for all regional communities. They have rung me in relation to a whole range of regional funds, and I note that this is the coalition, this is the government, that has actually delivered for all regional communities, because we are passionate about jobs and we are passionate about growth. We will continue to deliver for the people of Indi into the future, and I thank the member for her question.




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