Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (16:25): Port Augusta is the crossroads of Australia. All east-west and north-south traffic passes through Port Augusta over the single-lane Joy Baluch Bridge. The Baluch Bridge was opened in 1972, replacing the Great Western Bridge, which has since served as a safe and attractive walkway linking the two halves of Port Augusta.
The Port Augusta City Council maintains the Great Western Bridge but last week received advice that it was unsafe and closed it to pedestrian traffic. All foot traffic, including schoolchildren, bikes, the disabled, gophers, wheelchairs and sometimes the inebriated must now use the Baluch Bridge with its narrow 1.8-metre walkway and no barrier between pedestrians and the traffic, including triple road trains. As a consequence, a 25-kilometre speed limit on the bridge has been imposed, causing a major bottleneck, particularly at peak periods.
The Joy Baluch Bridge is part of the national road network, and I have contacted the Federal Minister for Transport seeking immediate action to install a walkway with adequate width and separation from the traffic. I am also calling on the council and state government to lodge bids with either the Bridges Renewal Program or the Building Better Regions Fund to restore the Great Western Bridge to a standard capable of carrying emergency services traffic-because emergency services are all located in Port Augusta East-supporting the tourist industry and, most importantly, restoring a safe route for foot traffic.