Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (13:19): Mr Deputy Speaker, you, like other members of this place, would sometimes have people make complaints to your office about various things, whether it’s about being vaccinated or about not being vaccinated or about 100 other topics, but I’d have to say that, in the last four years, my office has had quite an uptick of complaints from people about having to go slow on our roads because they’re being rebuilt. I’ve never had a better complaint, I must say! I’m very pleased that so much is happening on our roads. You’ve got to really work to get around Grey and avoid the roadworks at the moment. Roads of Strategic Importance is just one of the programs that are delivering for us. In particular, there is $62 million allotted to the construction, or reconstruction, of the Barrier Highway between Burra and the border, essentially. For those who don’t know, the Barrier Highway is South Australia’s direct connection to Sydney, so there is a lot of heavy traffic that comes down that line. Then there is $100 million allocated west of Port Augusta—$75 million for the Eyre Highway, heading through to WA, and another $25 million on Eyre Peninsula, for assistance in replacing the rail network that was closed two or three years ago now. Around $15 million of that has been drawn down on. All of these numbers I quote are matched, I hasten to add, by 20 per cent from the state government, so the figures are actually bigger than they might initially appear. On the Eyre Highway, we have seen hundreds of kilometres of widening go ahead. At one stage, driving between my home place and Port Augusta, I think I had around 120 kilometres of speed restrictions. But the speed restrictions are off now, and the road is in fantastic order.
But, as I said, there’s so much more happening. We’ve got a $100 million commitment from the federal government for what we call the Port Wakefield solution, which is an overpass and dual lanes through Port Wakefield—this is on the Augusta Highway—and $160 million for the construction of a new bridge, a second bridge, in Port Augusta. Works on those are well underway, and it’s very exciting for me to drive past those works. We’ve begun work on duplicating the highway north of Port Wakefield, heading towards Port Augusta. The first section will be to Nantawarra. There has also been a lot of work done on the Horrocks Highway, and there is more to come. The Todd Highway, on Eyre Peninsula, which is one of the major grain routes, has been widened. There are significant numbers of passing lanes going in around the electorate, and the councils have not been missing out either. In Grey alone, there has been $9.4 million extra coming, through the ramped-up Roads to Recovery, to councils in Grey and another $23 million coming through the local roads component of the FAGs. The Supplementary Local Road Funding program, a South Australia-specific program, delivers $20 million a year to regional councils across the state. In the last 18 months, $68 million has gone to councils in Grey from the three rounds of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. No wonder things are happening on our roads.
In so many areas in regional Australia we rely on transport routes. Our farmers and miners need a best path to port, if you like, the most competitive way of getting our products onto the world stage. And there is the safety issue. While the road toll is not what it was 10 or even 20 years ago, we are moving in the right direction all the time. Some of that is on the back of better cars and better safety in cars, but certainly a lot of it is on the increasing level of road safety provided by a good road. The road transport people are very keen to point out to us that the best value for our buck we can get is through road widening, the extending of the shoulders out so that, if someone dips a wheel off, they can get back while they’re still on the bitumen rather than dipping that one wheel off and—we’ve all seen the tracks, that curving line that comes from the left-hand side of the road and ends up with the car backwards on the other side of the road. I do around 80,000 or 90,000 kilometres in a year, and over the last 14 years I’ve had a couple of close encounters that I would have preferred not to have had, and they weren’t through my driving mistakes. There is always a chance out there that there is an accident waiting to happen. We will never get to a stage where there will be no accidents. Let’s not kid ourselves. Driver error is alive. But we need to do all we possibly can to make sure that the road surfaces are not contributing to that outcome. I think we’ve made great ground. I’m very pleased to be part of a government has a $110 billion commitment in this area. We have never seen works on this scale before, certainly not in my electorate of Grey.
Sitting sus pended from 13:24 to 16:00