Thursday, 5 March 2020 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Page 527
The Hon. G.G. BROCK ( Frome ) ( 14:50 ): My question is to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Can the minister please advise the progress of the shoulder sealing of the Blyth Plains Road? With your leave, Mr Speaker, and that of the house I will explain further. Leave granted.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: I have been communicating with the minister since July 2018. This road is used by many tourists, also heavy vehicles, including many hay trucks, and very importantly the regional school bus services. I will say that I congratulate the minister for having a site inspection there in June 2019. I am just wondering about the progress of this road.
The Hon. S.K. KNOLL ( Schubert Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (14:51): I thank the member for Frome for this question and note his very, very keen interest in this. In fact, I have got photos on my phone of the visit that we took in June 2019 of Red Pass Corner. In fact, what we saw that day was pretty scaryessentially, two trucks coming in opposite directions at each other with a road that was so narrow that I am not 100 per cent sure how the side mirrors of those trucks did not smash on the way through. It is an extremely dangerous part of our road network.
In last year’s budget we committed in the member for Frome’s electorate to upgrade Blyth Plains Road, and, in fact, that work has now been undertaken. It was undertaken late last year, and the safety barriers on those roadworks are set to be done next montha road that takes some 1,400 vehicles a day at a cost of $1.261 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
It is essentially a 12 kilometre section of road that had the sealed shoulders there, and those safety barriers are due to go in. We know that when we seal road shoulders we can reduce death and serious injury by up to 40 per cent. That is a phenomenal statistic, and the reason is because the number one way that people die on our roads, especially country roads, is what we call single vehicle run-off, where a single vehicle, not in contact with anything else, drives off the side of the road.
Now, whether that be fatigue, whether that be drug and alcohol, whether that be inattention, whether that be a kangaroo jumping in front of the car, somebody driving off the side of a road crashing into a fixed object is what kills people more than anything else. It has happened all too often, especially in the member for Frome’s electorate, and we can talk about the Horrocks Highway at a different time.
It is why investing in shoulder sealing is so important, and it is why we were so proud as part of last year’s budget to see an increase, a doubling in the amount of moneyin fact over-doublingfrom $11 million under the former government to $26 million that we are spending sealing shoulders across our road network.
I did have the great opportunity to visit the member’s electorate just last week to address the Legatus meeting and group of councils to talk through a whole series of issues, but I had the opportunity afterwards to drive again the stretch of road from Blyth to Halbury, a 28 kilometre stretch of road, and it was just as bad as the time the member for Frome and I went to have a visit.
However, the exciting thing is that next month we are going to get on and seal that road, seal the shoulders on that road, to save the 600 vehicles a day that drive over that road to help them stay alive using the Blyth Plains Road$3.5 million as part of the safety package under our Rural Roads Program to help improve road safety on that dangerous stretch of road.
What I look forward to once this road is doneand, again, next month it will start and progress over the course as we head into winteris that when people do experience inattention, when they are inattentive on the road, when they do see a fixed object in front of them, the opportunity for them to be able to swerve onto the shoulder rather than swerve onto the gravel and then go on to hit a fixed object means that we are going to keep more South Australians alive.
This is a program that our government is extremely passionate about because it reinvests in South Australia’s country roads which have been so long neglected under the former government. This is part of $1.3 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money that we are spending to fix some 1,000 kilometres out of the 10,000 kilometres of road that we own. We are fixing for country South Australians to keep them alive, to help our heavy vehicles work more productively and make our region is just that much more liveable.