Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:55): I rise to speak to the Appropriation Bill in regard to the 2021-22 budget. This is a budget that is focused on creating jobs, providing better services and building what matters. This budget includes a range of measures that support local jobs and longer term economic growth. They include additional funding for the Jobs and Economic Growth Fund, formerly the Economic and Business Growth Fund, bringing the capacity of the fund to $200 million over the next four years, and extending the payroll tax exemption for apprentices and trainees for a further 12 months.
Both these economic positions are fantastic for generating business in our economy, especially with the extra 12 months for apprentices and trainees. But there is $200 million in the Jobs and Economic Growth Fund that will range across areas like defence and agriculture and other areas to really boost business in this state, investing further funding in skills and training and providing funding for a range of new transport, health, school and other community infrastructure projects.
The budget certainly includes a $163.5 million package of mental health initiatives. These initiatives put extra beds in place. They will help clear up the ramping and will be a great service for those in our community who do need these mental health services. There is also a $50.1 million Early Learning Strategy supporting developmentally vulnerable children by increasing the reach and frequency of early childhood development health checks.
I certainly remember the Blue Book that you get when your kids are born that progresses the health checks, vaccinations, etc., and it is a great way for everyone to keep track of how their children are going. These measures build on the government's $4 billion state stimulus package that was announced in the 2020-21 budget.
In regard to building what matters, the funding has increased by $1.2 billion from $16.7 billion to $17.9 billion, and this is over the next four years on critical infrastructure across government, continuing the government's record program of infrastructure renewal. I would like to acknowledge some of the projects that we have done recently, including the Browns Well Highway and the Ngarkat Highway.
They are both great routes throughout the edge of the Mallee near the Victorian border, ranging from Loxton through to Bordertown. The work is just about completed on the Ngarkat Highway. I know that the Browns Well Highway has been put up to 110 km/h, which was a promise at the last election, and I am really proud as one of the local members alongside the member for Chaffey and the member for MacKillop that these projects were delivered as part of our eight roads promise to get these roads back to 110 km/h. I know that the locals are very pleased that this was put in place.
There is also $8 billion for roads and public transport as part of this $17.9 billion and $2 billion for health—massive projects going into health. Education and schools have $665 million. One of my schools, the Murray Bridge High School and the transition to year 7, has $20 million being spent there at the minute, and it is absolutely fantastic. The Sarah contemporary architecturally designed 16 classrooms on the second level have a huge amphitheatre underneath. It is a phenomenal thing to behold and will really take education into the future in the Murray Bridge region.
The north-south corridor has increased funding by $1 billion, to $9.9 billion. The extra $1 billion dollars is to increase the lane width from two lanes to three lanes because it is a little bit difficult to come back with a tunnelling machine. I certainly support this initiative to really increase that throughput. We are doing the hard bit of that north-south connector, and we will get on with that job and it will have the appropriate tunnels and surface works in place.
The new Women's and Children's Hospital has $1.95 billion to provide services for women and children well into the future. That is programmed to be finished and 2027, notwithstanding the fact that we are investing $50 million to keep the current Women's and Children's Hospital going until we get to that date. The Riverbank arena, with $662 million, will host and hold15,000, and that will complement our convention and conference facilities across North Terrace and be available for so many events and increase our convention holding capacity. It will be another great economic stimulus going into the future.
We also have the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, with $200 million. Another project is the $10 million for a business case for the Greater Adelaide freight bypass to divert trucks from the South Eastern Freeway to the north-south freight route via Sturt Highway. I think that is a great thing to be doing. That sits alongside $202 million for the Truro bypass. I think that is much-needed infrastructure, and I know that member for Chaffey would drive through Truro—well, how many times a year?
An honourable member: A lot.
Mr PEDERICK: A lot Because of the nature of the beast, thankfully we are lucky to get B-triples, B-quads, road trains and AB-doubles all out of Port Adelaide, essentially, run them around the connectors and the expressways and take them out the Sturt Highway. They can either head to the Riverland or get to the Halfway House corner near Sedan and come down my way, towards Mannum and Murray Bridge. As I have mentioned in this place before, it is a great thing that, almost by default, we are getting massive tonnages, thousands of tonnes of freight, not having to go down the freeway because nothing bigger than a B-double can come down the freeway. That is happening by default. I am going to talk about this project a bit more later on.
The old Murray Bridge, at Murray Bridge of course, has $36 million over two years. This is the signature infrastructure spend in my electorate. Obviously, it links both the east and west side of Murray Bridge within the township. It is fully state-funded works, which will include rectification of piers, drainage and lighting improvements. It sits just under the recently completely rebuilt Bridgeport Hotel.
I have already talked about some of these initiatives: the Economic and Business Growth Fund, the capacity of the fund to $200 million over the next four years, and the extension of the payroll tax exemption for apprentices and trainees for a further 12 months, which invests further funding in skills and training. As I have already indicated, this budget also provides funding for a range of new transport, health, school and other community infrastructure projects.
We have talked about some of the health funding initiatives, and I note that there is $28 million more going into the Ambulance Service. There has been a lot of debate about the Ambulance Service. We are putting on 74 more jobs there. We are putting on more doctors, more nurses and midwives and ambulance officers in South Australia than ever before in this state's history. This investment by our government, the Marshall Liberal government, acknowledges the important work of our Ambulance Service and the need to invest in its capacity while also pursuing sensible reforms to rostering and meal break practices that will further support the effectiveness of the service.
That is just part of our program, alongside our money for mental health beds and mental health funding and other programs that we are doing in our four-point plan to address issues in health. Part of that includes upgrades to emergency services right across the city and peri-urban areas, with 140 more treatment bays for emergencies. This will provide a much greater output for our emergency departments into the future, just like the newly developed $7 million emergency department at the Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Murray Bridge.
In regard to specific money being spent in my electorate of Hammond, it includes $36 million to refurbish the Old Murray Bridge and a $20 million upgrade to Murray Bridge High School, which will be opening up for year 7 in 2022. Another education funding program I am really proud of is a $3 million replacement of existing learning areas at the Eastern Fleurieu R-12 Langhorne Creek campus.
There is $5 million towards the Murray Bridge to South East Links business case. This is about looking at the duplication of the Swanport Bridge. As I have said here before, I was stunned when it opened in 1979 and I drove up to it and there was a single lane each way, so let's see if we can rectify that. We will first do the study and then look at the program beyond Tailem Bend, through to the exit to the Mallee Highway, directly adjacent to the motorsport park at Tailem Bend at The Bend, for the dual-lane program there as well. A lot of money will be needed for that in the end because a bridge has to be lifted and made dual lane over the railway, but that is something we will look at.
There is some money going to my local councils, with $1½ million going towards the Mid Murray Murraylands Road upgrades. We have $900,000 going to the Coorong District Council for high-risk intersection upgrades and $850,000 towards the Lameroo pool rejuvenation project. We also have $540,000 going towards the Swanport Road recycled water pipeline project and $300,000 towards the Knights Well Road upgrade project.
This budget is a massive investment in infrastructure and services in the state, and I am so proud to see so much investment throughout the state, especially in the electorate of Hammond. As my signature item of infrastructure is the old bridge at Murray Bridge, I am going to go through a bit of history of when the bridge was built and how it came about.
The Old Murray Bridge was built of iron between 1873 and 1879 and is 603.5 metres, or 1,980 feet, in length. It was used by trains for 40 years, and during that time tollgates were installed to control other traffic across the bridge. The bridge became a shared road and rail bridge in 1886 and remained so until 1925, when a separate railway bridge was built adjacent. An article in the Adelaide Observer on Saturday 22 March 1879 stated:
The Murray Bridge deserves more than a passing notice, as it is the largest and at the same time the most costly undertaking of its kind that has been yet erected in the Australian Colonies, including New Zealand.
The political history of the bridge extends through several sessions of parliament, starting in 1861 when a committee of the House of Assembly recommended that a suitable bridge could be erected at a cost not exceeding £20,000—what if we could do that again?—the required amount should be included in the estimates for the following session.
The structure had to be specially adapted for the transit of cattle and sheep. The height of the bridge was initially set at 20 feet (or 6.1 metres) above the water, but in carrying out the work it was found necessary to increase it to 30 feet (9.1 metres) in order to be clear of funnels of the river steamers. Superintendent Mr H. Parker arrived from England in June 1874 with his apparatus and commenced the work of placing the remaining piers in position.
To measure the depth, divers were sent through 50 feet (15 metres) of water and 30 feet of river drift, making a total depth below water level of 80 feet (24 metres) under which the divers worked. No. 1 pier was taken down 70 feet (21 metres); No. 2 pier, 92 feet (29 metres); No. 3 pier, 118 feet (36 metres); No. 4 pier, 110 feet (34 metres); and No. 5 pier, 109 feet (33 metres) below the underside of the main girders.
It was a work of some considerable difficulty and danger, and to estimate the cost with the insufficient data at hand was very hazardous. The bridge piers, now increased to five in number, were sunk 30 feet deeper, and raised 10 feet higher to suit the steamers, than the section of the river sent to England in 1965 indicated. The river spans were five in number, each being 114 feet five inches (34.87 metres) in the clear and constructed on the Warren principle.
They were built by Messrs Kennard Brothers of the Crumlin Works, South Wales, and were a fine example of first-class bridge work. The main girders are connected together laterally by cross girders, which were originally made on the lattice principle, but not being strong enough to sustain the weight of a railway train they were taken to pieces and reconstructed of plate and angle irons. The bridge is floored with Malletts buckle plates, upon which the asphalt and road metal is carried.
The length of the structure over the river is 695 feet (212 metres), the width of roadway being 11 feet (3.4 metres), and of the footways, which are also asphalted, three feet six inches (1.07 metres). The main girders rested on masonry bedstones, which were supported by the cement concrete with which the cast-iron piers are filled, the piers in each instance having been sunk down to the bedrock granite.
They were composed of cast-iron cylinders seven feet in internal diameter, fitted together in segments and bolted in lengths as they were lowered into the river bed and, after being tested with double the weight that they would be ever required to sustain, they were filled up with cement concrete. The great depth below the waterline to which these piers were sunk necessitated a much heavier description of bracing than that sent from England.
The castings for these heavier braces, which were 89 tons in weight, were made by Messrs James Martin and Co. of Gawler and fitted together at the bridge works on a staging lowered into the water and afterwards adjusted and fixed by the divers. As soon as the piers were filled up and the bedstones set, the girders, which had previously been put together on floating stages between the piers, were lowered onto the bedplates by admitting water into the pontoons, which were then removed and moored in the next span, where the operation of building and fixing the girders was carried on until all the spans were completed.
The eastern approach consisted of 23 spans of 60 feet each, making a total length of 1,380 feet (420 metres). The piers consist of cast-iron cylinders on six-feet lengths, socketed together and sunk into the swamp to an average depth of about 60 feet. After being duly tested, they were filled up with concrete and prepared to receive the main girders, which were constructed on the lattice principle and made continuous—that is to say, every three spans represented a length of 179 feet 10 inches (54.81 metres).
The cross girders are constructed of plates and angle irons, and the floor, which was composed of buckle plates, were secured to the cross girders by suitable bearers. The work of erecting the approach occupied about 12 months, the chief difficulty being the transit of the materials, about 2,560 tons, by sea and overland and the sinking of the cylinders. The girders were lifted into position by a Goliath, which was carried on rails throughout the whole length of the swamp.
Certainly, I have travelled over this bridge all my life. The cross bands that are on the western end of the bridge as you come across it were replaced and lifted maybe half a metre higher—I am just going off memory now—because semitrailers would go across the bridge and hook the last one or two. Obviously, they would cause a major problem on the bridge and either destroy the girder, destroy the truck or both. I believe that was done sometime in the seventies.
I just want to take my hat off to the engineering that was done at the time to get this structure, which was opened in 1879, in place. It really goes to show what can be done. I am absolutely thrilled to see this money about to be invested, this $36 million in keeping the bridge up to speed for at least the next 30 years. I acknowledge the whole budget. I think the borrowing will be fantastic for the state and lead us well into the future in light of COVID-19.