Question without notice
My question is to the Minister for Public Transport.
The national accounts report released last week showed agriculture, forestry and fishing production was 8.3 per cent in the December quarter.
It was the strongest performance of all industries and more than double that of mining. The value of farm production has been outstanding this year and the Goulburn Valley region, as the food bowl, contributes enormously to that. But we do not have the infrastructure to support the communities that support our farming sector. Minister, while billions of dollars are reasonably being expended on the Melbourne Metro, would it not be fair for there to be a substantial investment in the Shepparton rail line?
Ms Allan, Minister for Public Transport
I thank the Independent member for Shepparton for her question. This house has become very familiar over the past two years with her strong advocacy and support for improved rail services for the Shepparton region. If I heard correctly, in her introductory remarks the member for Shepparton spoke about the investment that is being made in the Metro Tunnel.
She is right to say that it is reasonable to expect that money is spent on the Metro Tunnel project, and this expenditure, the $10.9 billion investment we are making, is not just about an infrastructure project in the heart of the city; it is actually going to unlock all of our public transport system and enable more regional services to also run into the city. For the first time people from regional Victoria will be able to get on a train and go and visit family or relatives who might be at the Royal Women’s Hospital or the Royal Children’s Hospital or the Parkville cancer centre or attending university.
The member for Shepparton also wants me to focus on the investment in infrastructure for the Shepparton community. As part of that investment in regional rail we also provided for something that the Shepparton community had long been calling for but those opposite had failed to deliver and that is the additional service. We are seeing people vote with their feet on this additional service. We undertook a range of consultations and the additional service is a daily service, a 4.31 p.m. service to Shepparton. We have also adjusted the timetable in response to the community consultation and provided a service leaving Seymour and arriving at Southern Cross station before 7.00 a.m. This also delivered this investment.
There has also been investment in rolling stock, and I commit to the member for Shepparton that we will continue to work with her and her community on making those important investments, the step change investments, that the Shepparton community is looking for but sadly were ignored for four long years under those opposite.
Minister, I am very pleased to be able to ask a question about my electorate, but I receive many emails on a regular basis about the state of the service, about trains being overcrowded, no air conditioning working on days well over 30 degrees and no buffet services on early-morning trains. Minister, you know that a very large investment is required to upgrade the service between Shepparton and Melbourne, and surely the time for planning has passed. Will the minister commit in this budget to undertake the works necessary to provide a Shepparton service comparable to that in her region and the other regional cities?
I mentioned in my substantive answer the investment we made in last year’s budget, and that included investment in improving the classic fleet rolling stock which services the Shepparton line to address those issues of patronage numbers and also the air-conditioning issues that that line experiences.
The member for Shepparton is right. Examples of the ageing rolling stock on that line and the ageing infrastructure underscore the need for significant investment to make that step change in service delivery. I hope the member for Shepparton can see that we heard very much the concerns that have been raised, that she has raised and given voice to in this place on behalf of her community, and know that there is more work to do on the Shepparton line. I share her desire to see improved services for the Shepparton community because they do richly deserve improved services after a century of neglect from their local representatives of those opposite.