Senator Macdonald interview with Barry Simpson 4KZ/4AM

Barry Simpson is speaking with Senator Ian Macdonald who is the Federal Opposition Spokesperson for Northern and Remote Australia. Welcome to our part of the world Senator.
Senator Macdonald: Thanks very much.
Barry Simpson: Senator, can you tell us how committed is the LNP at a Federal level to establishing infrastructure throughout this region.
Senator Macdonald: Weve just driven 3,500 kilometres around north and north-west Queensland. The roads are atrocious, the road between Chillagoe and Mareeba clearly needs upgrade, its a danger, its the sort of road that the Federal Coalition will be looking to fund should we be in government after the next election.
Barry Simpson: What about water and irrigation supplies to the region
Senator Macdonald: Australia and the world need food. You only get food from irrigated pastures, irrigated crops. We must have additional water storage right throughout Australia. There are great opportunities in the north. The Nullinga Dam near Mareeba is one of those that really seriously must be looked at, not just for the immediate future but looking for the long term water supply for Cairns and importantly to make sure the cropping industry continues in the northern Tablelands area.
Barry Simpson: You spoke about transport earlier Senator, what about the Bruce and other Highways throughout the State.
Senator Macdonald: There has been a lot of money put into the Bruce Highway over the Howard government years. It never seems to get spent by the State government. Clearly there needs to be some serious management issues looked at on the construction of the Bruce. Theres a lot of money allocated, nothing ever seems to get done. As well, its very important that Federal governments look at an inland route to the south. The Hahn Highway clearly needs more funding, it would get a lot of traffic off the Bruce Highway and generally speaking it would be an all-weather road.
Barry Simpson: Senator, tax reforms and rebates for remote areas of the north and other areas in Australia are currently the modus operandi I guess of discussions throughout local media, what are your thoughts
Senator Macdonald: Well I was amused to hear Mr Fraser, the Queensland Treasurer, telling the Federal government what it should do. For a start perhaps, the State Government should look at lifting some of the taxation burden from people who live remote from the capital city. And a Federal Zone Tax is something that weve been very keen on having a look at for some time. At the last election we had some issues around this with special economic zones which would look at a different rate of taxation, other taxation concessions. I think an incoming Abbott government clearly has to look closely at Zone Tax Rebates and also at special economic zones to try and make some equity for those of us who live a long way from the capital cities, those of us who pay more for freight for all of our goods, those of us who have to travel many thousands of kilometres to get decent medical and educational support.
Barry Simpson: Senator, this trip to the far north has been fairly involved, what did it entail
Senator Macdonald: Over 3,500 kilometres driving on the road like the locals do, stopping wherever we could, listening to what people had to say to us. Im very keen to understand the problems, to have some empathy with life the way the locals live it. One thing that comes through very clearly is this Carbon Tax debate. Most people up this way understand that the climates been changing since the dinosaurs were around; they know that wasnt the cause of man. Be that as it may, what people do understand, particularly in the north-west is that Carbon Tax means additional costs of living increases. Power costs will go up, we must have power up here, its an essential item. Air-conditionings not a luxury. Cost of fuel, all those sort of things will become more expensive with the Carbon Tax and its something that must be addressed immediately.
Barry Simpson: Ok, and one last word on dams and the water.
Senator Macdonald: Look, weve been very keen to talk to people about proposals for water storage right throughout the north. There are a lot of good soils up this way, bear in mind that there are 80 million new people come into the world every year that have to be fed. Australia has to look towards its own food security but we also have an obligation to help feed those new 80 million people coming into the world every year. Dams, other water storage facilities across the north, I think are feasible. Tony Abbotts set up his Coalition Dams Task Group to have a look at those and part of my trip this time has been looking at and talking to people involved in proposals for better and more water storage up in the north and north-west of Queensland.
Barry Simpson: Thanks ever so much.

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