Question time: Country road speed limits

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Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | Share:

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:04): My question is to the Minister for Transport. How long do the people of the South-East need to wait for you to honour your election promise of increasing speed limits on Port MacDonnell and Carpenter Rocks roads, given that it's now 367 days and my sixth question on this issue?

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Member for Kaurna and the Minister for Police, if this continues you will also be leaving. The Minster for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government has the call. Member for Kaurna and Minister for Primary Industries, please! Minister.

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (15:05): I would like to thank the member for Mount Gambier for his question. He is a passionate and consistent advocate for his community and for the promises that we took to the state election that we are going to honour in his electorate. We are extremely concerned about the state of our country roads—extremely concerned—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —and we took to the election not only—

Mr Malinauskas interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition, be quiet.

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —a policy around restoring speed limits on eight country roads but also about making sure that we make investments in them: $315 million for the Regional Roads and Infrastructure Fund, which was part of our first budget. We have been using that money, member for Mount Gambier, to help improve roads right across South Australia, and the $10 million-odd that we have put into roads on Eyre Peninsula in relation to the Tod Highway—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —the Birdseye Highway and the Lincoln Highway, and going across to Yorke Peninsula to talk about some resealing work that is being done at the moment, as well as a significant upgrade of Mines Road in Wallaroo.

We went into the South-East, in the member for MacKillop's electorate, and announced about $5 million for road upgrades, including some upgrade work to Clay Wells Road and also some other works on the various highways around there. We are putting money back into roads in regional South Australia. We will continue to do that. We will continue to make sure that we are delivering the best road safety outcome that we possibly can.

We had a good year last year and I say that in comparative terms in the fact that we saw a reduced number of deaths on our roads, compared to the previous year. This year has started off as an absolute horror. Every time I hear on the news or the radio the fact that there has been another fatality on our roads, it really hits home that there is so much more that we need to do. Interestingly, those statistics from last year—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —show that, of the 81 deaths on—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: —South Australian roads 61 came from regional South Australia, and of those 61 about half came from our major highways. That's why we are pushing and working every day to work, for instance, with the federal government to make sure that they understand that road safety is our top priority and also for us to put the money in to make sure that we can see those roads improved. The member for Mount Gambier will get an answer. As soon as I can give him the answer, he will get it. I'm not being coy or facetious. We take this very seriously.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL: We reject any assertion that there has been a reduction in funding for country roads. I must admit, I do not know where that comes from. I honestly do not understand where that figure comes from. When we say regional roads and infrastructure money, what we are talking about is state government contribution, not federal, and we are talking about roads, not necessarily associated marine infrastructure. This $315 million is being spent on country roads.

The other commitment that South Australians can understand is the fact that we want to help upgrade roads, such as the Penola bypass, again in the member for MacKillop's electorate, that the other guys were too cheap to take the money from the feds on. We are also putting $90 million into fixing a long bottleneck crash corner at Port Wakefield and the associated duplication through the township and the Joy Baluch Bridge—$200 million—a project that the other guys wouldn't have looked at because it wasn't in an electorate that they cared too much about. We understand that this has been a longstanding problem and it creates significant safety issues in that part of South Australia. We are putting the dollars on the table and we will get the job done.

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