Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (19:55): I’ve got some good news to share with you. Today, the heavy work began on the duplication of the Augusta Highway beginning at Port Wakefield, with the first two sections to go through to Lochiel. That’s a distance of about 32 kilometres. That section will cost $260 million, of which the Commonwealth is supplying $200 million, with the state picking up the balance, of course. It’s 200 kilometres to Port Augusta, so it’s a start, and we’ve got a long way to go. But it is a road that is carrying increasing traffic to the north and west of South Australia, where, in fact, many of our resources sit. Companies like BHP and OZ Minerals are already hard at work and looking to extend their operations in that part of the state. So there is a lot happening. There’s a lot of excitement. My attitude on the duplication of the highway is that it needs to be done. Traffic loads are lifting all the time. And what we really need to do is make a start, and then we’ll see where we go with the next tranche of that. Today, it began.
There is also money—in the $206 million released by the Deputy Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago—for a final plan or an advanced plan on the duplication of the section between Crystal Brook and Port Pirie. That would seem to be not contiguous, and I know that many are not aware of that section of the road, but that’s around another 80 kilometres north of this first section. The reason for that is that Crystal Brook is a sort of feeder or commuter suburb for Port Pirie, and there are a lot of people who live in one place and work in the other and commute each day. That is actually the busiest section of the road, between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta, so it makes sense to make a move there. There are four intersections there, one of which has claimed a number of lives over a long period of time. So I’m really looking forward to getting that planning process done and then getting the finance allocated to get that section of the road done as well. If we build on the progress of what began today, we can make great progress in the future.
Of course, I talk about good news, and, as the member for Grey, I can hardly believe the amount of works for infrastructure, particularly roadworks, that are going on around my electorate. There’s over a billion dollars of Commonwealth funds either spent, under construction or committed for highways. We’re looking at the duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge in Port Augusta; the overpass and dual lanes through Port Wakefield, which are due for completion around the middle of this year, and the overpass is already open; upgrades on the Horrocks Highway, the Barrier Highway, the Eyre Highway, the Flinders Highway, the Tod Highway, the Lincoln Highway and the Stuart Highway—which we’ve had a little bit of trouble with lately; it’s been cut for a couple of weeks—and the widening of the roads. We know one of the great ways to spend public money is to widen out the roads and flatten them, and then you’ve got much safer roads to travel on.
Then there’s the road from Arthurton to Minlaton down on the Yorke Peninsula. That was one of the things that I raised when I first came into politics: ‘We need to get this road fixed.’ Up until the last three years, we haven’t really had a state government in South Australia that was all that interested in that part of the world. But we’ve come together now, the state and federal governments, and we’re getting on with the job there. We’re sealing the Strzelecki Track, another one that’s had a little bit of trouble with water in the last few weeks, it has to be said, and it has been closed. But there’s nearly 80 kilometres of that completed now, I understand, even though I haven’t been up there to see that work for a little while.
It’s a great pleasure, but it’s almost awe-inspiring to see the amount of work going on around the electorate at the moment. I’ve had a few complaints from people saying, ‘I’m sick of the hold-ups, and I’m sick of the “GO SLOW” signs.’ When I get one of those complaints, I say to them, ‘I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear that you have been delayed by roadworks.’
House adjourned at 20:00