Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (16:39): I’m very mindful of the member for Kingston’s comments there about the loss of the life of a wonderful volunteer. It just reminds us of what an amazing place Australia is, because in another part of South Australia we’ve been dealing with floods—in my electorate, I must say, and on my own farm. The most notable of course in the national eye has been the cutting-off of the Stuart Highway for 14 days or more. I’m very grateful to the federal government, to Bridget McKenzie, who got the wheels moving to get those Spartan aircraft in from the RAAF to organise food airlifts through to Cooper Pedy. Coober Pedy is the supply station for Oodnadatta, William Creek, Cadney Park and Marla, and that place was basically running out of food. The trucks started rolling through the floodwaters about 36 hours ago, and four-wheel drives with high clearance will be allowed through tonight.
It’s been a very testing period. The dirt roads in the outback are also cut off. The Strzelecki, Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks have all been cut off, but they will progressively open up and we’ll get the works open. It’s one of those testing times. It’s a very true thing to say that there’s more money in mud than dust; it will have a benefit. The national railway, of course, has been cut in 18 spots east of Kingoonya, and it’s expected to take weeks to repair.
Centred mainly over Eyre Peninsula, where I come from, we had a rain cell sit on top of us for about four days. My own farm experienced 240 mils of rain over those three days, 180 mils on the first night. One of my neighbours has had 320 mils. Kimba seemed to be the epicentre of the storm; that’s where I live. There are access roads to my farm that are over a metre deep, just gouged out by the force of the rain. There are two paddocks on my farm that would hold sheep at the moment, but the fences are gone. There’s silt on roads. There’s a lot of damage. We estimate that, in the Kimba council alone, there’s probably $5 million worth, and that’s an area of a thousand people. There are eight councils involved. As I said, Kimba is the worst, but councils like Franklin Harbour, Cleve, Elliston and Lower Eyre Peninsula all have significant damage as well.
I’m very pleased that the state government has now put in a bid for financial assistance under the national disaster relief arrangements, and that was approved today by the minister, Bridget McKenzie, who has been fantastic throughout this ordeal. So councils will now have the confidence to go forward, knowing they have the bankroll to deal with the issues in front of them—because we need to rebuild the roads not just for general access; in just a few weeks, farmers will be trying to get their seeding equipment up and down those roads and in and out of paddocks, and then, of course, along comes harvest. It’s been a difficult time, but everybody’s hanging in there—no loss of life. (Time expired)