Page 4349/50                                     HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                                    Tuesday, 2 March 2021

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:19): My question is for the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Can the minister update the house on the total funds allocated to the Horrocks Highway in light of the media statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Michael Cormack, last Saturday. With your leave, Mr Speaker, I will enhance a bit further.

Leave granted.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: Last Saturday, there was a media conference by the Deputy Prime Minister about a $100 million boost for regional South Australian roads. I have had several requests regarding the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister. They want to know what this statement was: was it an extra $100 million, which included $19.9 million for the upgrade of the Horrocks Highway between Templars and Wilmington? Is the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to additional funds for that section of the Horrocks Highway, or are funds being reallocated and reannounced?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister

for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (15:20): I thank the member for his question and note the work that has been happening in this space. I did outline some of the details a few moments ago, and there are two tranches of work here: the initial tranche, which you talked about, and then the road safety tranche, which came in the last budget. That was a really great opportunity, as I mentioned before, to partner with the federal government because we know road safety is vitally important, especially across our regional roads.

The way that road safety funding was put forward with the federal government was an 80:20 split. We put in $42 million and the federal government put in their share. We ended up spending another $58 million on metro roads as well. Just sticking to the regional roads and where that ended up, I think it was $210 million in the end—$168 million from the feds and $42 million from us—and that’s going to be done across three tranches.

I mentioned before that this was done in what the Deputy Prime Minister described, when he put this proposal out, as a ‘use it or lose it’ scheme, and it was being done in three tranches across the next three months. We sent the department away to look at what projects we could get moving very quickly, and some more work on the Horrocks Highway was outlined in that, along with a number of other regional roads, again because we know that for 16 long years they were neglected and not looked after. That’s happening, and it’s happening in the three tranches.

One of the great things that the department did incredibly well—and I thank everyone for their tireless work on this—was they had projects that were ready to go and we were able to get them out. We put our applications in to the federal government through the process, as they had asked, and our tranche of works was the first one put in. Other states were actually slow to get moving and slow to get theirs in. That’s all in the hope that if they don’t use it they will lose it, and we can perhaps put some more offerings in, so we are watching that really closely.

The great thing was that our first tranche, the $100 million, was accepted by the federal government and work is starting on that right now. The next tranche will come along, and again we’ve got those bodies of work in train, and we will look at that through tranche 2 and then some more work through tranche 3. What we know with road safety and a lot of the works—in fact, I was actually up on the Horrocks Highway just the other week.

I went up through Clare. From Clare, we went on to Crystal Brook and saw the great works happening at the footy club there. We went on to Melrose, up to Port Augusta and then came back through Port Pirie on the way home. It was a really good drive to have a look at a lot of those roads, and the work that’s already rolling out on the Horrocks Highway is fantastic. That shoulder widening, we know, makes our roads safer. We had the audio tactile line marking, and then, where it’s needed, we can put the barriers in place.

Again to the question, there was a body of work that was happening, that we identified that needed to happen, as you outline, and then the extra work that came along—the extra funding that has come along—is for those road safety mechanisms. Once again, we are really keen to partner with the federal government on this. We know our regional roads right across the board, whether it’s going north, down into the South-East or across to Eyre Peninsula as well—anywhere where we can look to do these bodies of work to increase safety. That’s become more prevalent through COVID.

A lot of people are travelling around South Australia, and more than ever I’m hearing reports from people from the city who have been out holidaying and spending their time in the regions, talking about our country roads. In the past, it would only be country people who would really see them and know them. You should go for a drive out and have a look at some stage—it’s worthwhile doing.

People have noted that that’s what we need to be doing in our state. It’s great to be investing in that again. I talked about the neglect before and the road maintenance budget that grew up to three-quarters of a billion dollars under the previous Labor government. We are chipping away at that and we know more work needs to be done. So, when

Don’t tell my metro friends about that because they will be disappointed that the regions got so much. We were really conscious of what needed to happen there because they needed that help and that support. It was a really great result. We are really happy with what’s happening, and I think the people in your region will be ecstatic with the end results as well.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The time for answering the question has expired.  That opportunity came from the federal government, we were really clear that at the 80:20 offering we could get $210 million for the regions and then we put $58 million into metro.