Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (21:48): I rise to speak to the Appropriation Bill 2023. I note that this is, as they are every year, the biggest budget I have seen for this state in 17 years. With the Supply Bill, it is close on $26 billion. But the issue I have, even though it is the biggest budget for the state, is that there is nothing in it for a typical South Australian family, a family of people contributing to the economy, paying tax, paying their way and then having to put up with cost-of-living increases, whether it is interest rates, whether it is groceries or whether, as we see, it is some wicked power price increases that are coming in. I will have a bit more to say about that later on.
I do want to concentrate on some parts of the portfolios that I handle as a shadow minister. Certainly, in regard to regional roads it is disappointing, really disappointing, to see the absolute stark lack of funding in regional roads. As someone who drives all over the state—I must admit I have not seen every kilometre of this state, but I have seen a fair bit of it—whether it is up to Innamincka, whether it is up the Stuart Highway, as I did recently, up to Kulgera and across to Finke in the Northern Territory, whether it is down to the South-East, whether it is the Mid North or whether it is around the Mallee, roads are just falling apart.
Sadly, the around $350 million over four years—over four years, I stress—over the forward estimates for road maintenance just will not cut it. It just will not cut it when you have a $3 billion maintenance backlog in this state, and it is not just that. It is the fact that we are not seeing the vision that we had when we were in government for four years. We put $18 billion into infrastructure right across the state, and much of that was on major road projects.
The Port Wakefield overpass project is still ongoing, the duplication up to Lochiel is ongoing, there are a whole range of projects. The eight roads we brought to 110 kilometres an hour was originally going to be a $37 million project. We needed $5 million more to do a bit of work on the Browns Well Highway between Loxton and Pinnaroo.
It was so pleasing to see that 200-kilometre section of road between Loxton and Bordertown with the shoulder sealing and some other road upgrades. There were some rough patches that needed to be fixed, and a bit of guardrail. I have mixed views on guardrail, but I will leave it there. That brought those roads to 110 kilometres an hour, because what we must understand is the productivity gains that we need to achieve in this state.
I am really pleased that when we were in government we commenced the Strzelecki Track upgrade. I have had a bit to do with the Strzelecki over my lifetime. Forty years ago, I worked up there for a couple of years. I have driven up and down it multiple times. I was up there only a year ago, the last time up to Innamincka and then the 29 or 30 kilometres on Adventure Way through to Queensland. That will be a fantastic project when it is completed. It will be, when it is completed, probably the quickest way to get to Brisbane: straight up to Innamincka and then just turn right.
I am really pleased about the projects that we instigated in government, but sadly we see the typical South Australian family left behind. We see regional South Australia left behind. I look at some of the projects that are in the budget this year. There is a $98 million road safety package over five years, and $40 million of that is going to a Mount Barker roundabout upgrade. I am not too sure that Mount Barker is out in the regions, but anyway it is what it is.
I have been around that roundabout many hundreds of times, whether I am linking through to Strathalbyn in my electorate or coming back from Strathalbyn to head back through to Adelaide, and quite frankly I cannot see a lot wrong with it. There has not been a death on there that I am aware of, which is a good thing. I am just so sad that that money could have been utilised in regional South Australia proper.
There is some money there to deploy and maintain some additional road safety cameras, $31.2 million, which includes some new mobile speed detection cameras, and over the four years of the forward estimates there is $10 million to undertake additional regional road safety treatments—audio tactile line marking, safety barriers and rural junction activated warning system signage—but that takes over four years.
I am pleased that $6.2 million is going to Kangaroo Island because, like any regional area, it deserves it, but it could do with a lot more. I have been over there multiple times, including helping to mop up after the big bushfires in 2020, and the roads need a lot of work, with only a small council.
There is money for some road safety campaigns over four years, $6.2 million, and $3.8 million to deliver motorcycle Rider Safe programs, which is to be applauded. There is nearly $500,000 to implement the new licensing scheme for motorists who operate high-powered super sports cars, but that is spread over four years. I have already mentioned that, sadly, there is no new money to address the road maintenance backlog, no new road projects of any size for regional roads, and important existing projects are at risk due to the federal government's 90-day review of infrastructure projects.
This includes projects like the Princes Highway upgrade as well as the, I think, $202 million for the Truro freight bypass. With the Hahndorf supposed bypass, we see that Labor has reneged on completing that project, that $250 million project. It would have been ideal if it had gone through in its proper form, but we are seeing politics played there.
We hear a lot of talk about the new Greater Adelaide freight route, and that has been mixed with projects like the duplication of the Swanport Bridge in the South East Links project. The South East Links is the first five kilometres of duplication, that has not happened for 40 years, on the Dukes Highway between Tailem Bend and the Mallee Highway, heading out towards the motorsport park. I am really concerned that some of these projects are either getting forgotten about or are being put out into the ether. They all need doing and they all need completing.
On the larger end of the spectrum there needs to be at least $10 billion—and that will rise as time goes on, and I am probably at the lower end—for the duplication of the Augusta Highway, the Sturt Highway and the Dukes Highway, on which I live at Coomandook. There are about 177 kilometres that have not been finalised to be done north of Lochiel to Port Augusta. This really should be done, because that is the road, amongst those three roads, that has the most road deaths.
There are close to 200 kilometres on each road, whether it is the Sturt Highway or the Dukes Highway, that need to be completed as well. We have seen too many accidents on both of those roads, even though on the Dukes there are overtaking lanes and that kind of thing. I tried to tell the Public Works Committee many years ago that instead of spending $100 million on overtaking lanes and a wide centre strip in the middle of the road they should start the duplication again. It was overruled, sadly; we might have saved some of the carnage on the Dukes Highway. I think it is the fourth busiest highway in this country with the freight between Adelaide and Melbourne. It is disappointing, to say the least, let alone for the people who have lost their loved ones on that road.
I have already talked about the road maintenance backlog, but let me talk about some of the good things in the budget in other sectors. I want to talk about the $26.7 million over four years to secure an additional nine aircraft to enhance South Australia's aerial firefighting capability. This is a good thing. I can tell you that I have been on a few firegrounds, whether that is active firefighting in the heat of the moment so to speak (without even trying to put in a pun) or mopping up, and it is just so nice to know the planes are up there.
When you have a red-hot fire but you know they are up there—sometimes they are not dumping near you or on you (which does not hurt, you just drop your lid if you know it is coming, drop your helmet)—it is so nice to know that they are hitting the hotspots so that the ground crews can get through. The McCabe family I have known for many, many years. Aerotech are one of the main operators in this state, and I know contractors work with them, and they have the Black Hawk helicopters now. I have heard they are doing some international work as we speak, and I commend them for everything they do. I think that will be a great advance, especially from where we were way back in the eighties with Ash Wednesday.
There is some money, nearly $2 million, for investment over four years to increase mental health, wellbeing and support for our volunteers and emergency services. I do applaud the $1.3 million over four years to establish a strategic flood barrier cache and provide training on the use of flood barrier materials. Alongside that, we have the government saying they have contributed $9.8 million to support the State Emergency Service to respond to the River Murray flood event.
This was a major event right up and down the river channel, and I commend all the volunteers in the SES, and the CFS—and, right across the board, our volunteers, paid workers, paid contractors—for the massive number of volunteer hours and also the massive contribution of everyone, whether it was local government, whether it was contractors and whether it was those vital SES and CFS volunteers and others, so that the impact of the River Murray floods could be lessened.
In saying that, as I did alongside my colleagues today, including the leader, David Speirs, we called on a full review of what happened and, yes there was a lot of good stuff. As I have said here before, I was working directly with chief executives, taking advice and giving advice, and I appreciated that all the time when we needed to make stuff happen—and we made stuff happen locally. We need to see what worked well, we need to see what did not work so well and we certainly need to see with the River Murray what we have learnt and what we need to do in the future. One of the big things is the management of the levee banks from around Mannum and south, where I looked after that 110 kilometres of levee bank area, and what we do next.
Quite frankly, a lot of work needs to be done, not just on where we set the levee bank height but on runways (and I will call them runways), especially on somewhere like the access points through to the River Murray levee around the Jervois Irrigation Trust, where there was 18 kilometres in the end, because of valiant work by the farmers—and, yes, the government contributed as well—to make sure we had those levees high enough. I worked alongside of them as well to make sure that we could do what we could to beat the flood event running over, but we need to do that work going into the future.
In regard to veterans affairs, I applaud a half million dollar investment over four years for a veterans community framework to support the veteran community through a veteran and families growth support program and comprehensive outreach program. Also, there is $730,000 for the redesign and upgrade of the Pathway of Honour in preparation for the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the end of World War II on 15 August 2025.
I will note some local programs that are happening. We have the completion coming up of the $5 million Murray Bridge North Primary School upgrade, which was funded by our previous government, and the continuation of the Old Murray Bridge refurbishment, which was funded by our government with $36 million and another $10 million now by the Labor government, with the estimated completion date blown out to June 2025 though.
What I am sad about is that there is no new funding for health or education services in Hammond. I had a very fruitful conversation with the Minister for Education today, and I will say that there are quite a few schools, quite a few area schools and primary schools across the state—I know there are some in the member for MacKillop's electorate and some that were my electorate previously, before the redistribution. One school that is very close to my heart is the Coomandook Area School, where I completed my first 10 years of education.
The school is getting a valuable $1.6 million upgrade to convert a sewing room in the home economics centre to a science lab. We had said we will give $2 million to put a new building in and demolish another building and that the old building will be demolished either way. It is to be applauded that this is going in because some of the talk around Coomandook has not been that positive on the future of the school with declining numbers from, at its peak, around 330 students, now at about 120. That is just a sign I guess of declining regional population.
One thing that really sticks in my neck is some of the virtue signalling around power prices and where we are going with that. I am really concerned. I am not too fussed what anyone thinks about whether it is climate change or whatever, but we in the Western world—whether it is here, Australia, across the United States and over a lot of Europe—are driving ourselves into oblivion with some of the management of energy.
Certainly, here we have seen since coal-fired power stations—and, yes, it is a dirtier way to generate energy, but they do generate energy—have been knocked down since 2016, our power prices have been going through the roof. I want to give a list of coal-fired power station closures. These are all linked to South Australia through the connectors through to the Eastern States:
closed in May 2016:
the Northern Power Station in Port Augusta, 544 megawatts;
Playford A, South Australia, 90 megawatts;
Playford B, South Australia, 240 megawatts;
closed in March 2017:
Hazelwood in Victoria, 1,600 megawatts; and
just closed recently in Lidell in New South Wales in April 2023, 2,000 megawatts.
That is 4,474 megawatts that have gone out of the system—nearly 5,000 megawatts—and I certainly believe that has something to do with where we are today with power prices going through the roof, yet we still have people bagging gas. We see caps come in for coal and gas and I really worry about what it is going to do into the future, especially when you see the rewards that are coming to Queensland, New South Wales as well, and WA on the export of coal and gas.
We are getting belted with power price increases, with people coming in really concerned about the notices they are getting from their energy companies, and this really strikes at the heart of cost of living. This is the highest one that has come into our office: Sumo power, controlled load usage, up 171 per cent.
Mrs Hurn: Wow!
Mr PEDERICK: Yes, wow. Peak usage up 104 per cent. The advice we gave to that constituent was, 'You need to look elsewhere.' This is where we are and we really need to have a good hard look at ourselves as a society because we are going to be in real strife because what is going to happen with the cost of living and these higher power costs is we are going to see not thousands but hundreds of thousands of people literally on the streets, and that worries me. It worries me deeply, not just for the seat of Hammond but for the state and the rest of this country. I hope we can find a way out.